Tiny Queensland town’s fight for an ambo

Residents of a regional Queensland town fear someone will be killed after the State Government refused to provide a full-time ambulance because hiring somebody to drive it would take too much work.

Richmond, a 700-person town located between Hughenden and Julia Creek in the state's northwest, has a part-time ambulance driver on-call to respond to an emergency.

However, residents are often forced to take themselves to the hospital instead of waiting for the driver to travel from his home to the ambulance and onto the incident.

For two decades Richmond Mayor John Wharton has campaigned on the need for a dual-qualified nurse and paramedic to operate in his town.

Richmond residents are often forced to take themselves to the hospital. Photo Tony Martin / Daily Mercury
Richmond residents are often forced to take themselves to the hospital. Photo Tony Martin / Daily Mercury

He wrote to newly appointed Health Minister Yvette D'Ath in November urging her to assist in hiring someone who could operate in the town's health service as a nurse while also driving the ambulance.

Ms D'Ath, in a response to Mr Wharton last on February 8, declined because "legislative changes would be required to take place".

"The inability for the dual certified paramedic/ registered nurse to operate to full scope of practice is due to the two professional roles having two different awards," she wrote.

"Thank you again for bringing this matter to my attention."

Mr Wharton, who at 24 years is the state's longest-serving Mayor, slammed the response.

"I've been in local government for a long time and I haven't heard such rubbish before," he said.

"We need a full-time ambulance before someone dies."

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D' Ath at Parliament. Pic Annette Dew
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D' Ath at Parliament. Pic Annette Dew

Ms D'Ath said there were several ambulance service delivery models in use throughout the state.

"Queensland Ambulance Service reviews both historical and predicted demands for service when considering the allocation of ambulance resources," she said.

"I'm advised that in 2019-20, the Richmond Hospital Based Ambulance responded an average of seven times per month and is currently resourced appropriately to respond to incidents within the Richmond community."

Mr Wharton attributed the few calls to the lack of confidence residents had in the ambulance. He said last month it took 40 minutes for the ambulance to arrive at the town's football ground and take an injured player three minutes to the hospital.

"The time frames are so long that people just load up and get in the car," he said.

"This is just a bloody pass the buck and not do anything move.

"We have fought and fought and fought and we've just been ignored."

Originally published as Life and death: Tiny Queensland town's fight for an ambo



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