WA has reported its worst annual ambulance ramping figures on record, with ambulances spending more than 52,000 hours ramped outside WA hospitals in 2021.

This is more than double the annual ambulance ramping figure in 2020 (25,902 hours) and more than five times the ambulance ramping total in 2017 (9819 hours) when WA Labor committed to putting patients first and freeing up hospital beds.

Shadow Minister for Health Libby Mettam said the 2021 figure of 52,435 hours was an appalling reflection of the McGowan Government’s handling of the health system.

“It’s well known that the WA health system has been mismanaged under the current WA Labor Government, but this is a truly shocking measure of how far they have allowed the system to denigrate under their watch,” Ms Mettam said.

“As a result of this government’s incompetence, patients and paramedics have effectively spent the equivalent of more than 2100 days or six years waiting outside our hospitals this year because our emergency departments are so full, they can’t accept them.

“It is astounding that in a time when we have little COVID in the community and a record surplus, our hospital systems have been so under-funded and under-resourced.”

The annual figure included a record monthly figure of 6525 hours in August.

“It is disgraceful that sick Western Australians who are in desperate need of medical attention are forced to wait for hours on end in the back of ambulances or on stretchers in hospital corridors.

“At the same time as this problem was rapidly escalating, this government was focussing on a union-led inquiry into the public takeover of the ambulance service.

“If this is how they manage the health system, how do they expect to manage our critical ambulance service?”

Ms Mettam said this year’s annual figure included 868 hours of ramping at our country hospitals, where ramping is also increasingly becoming an issue.

“Our regional areas have consistently been forgotten about by this metro-centric government, despite the dire need. Of the 332 extra beds announced in the September budget, not one was allocated for regional areas.

“Of the extra beds announced in December, only a handful will be added to the WA County Health Service with no additional ICU beds.

“It beggars’ belief, that despite the clear and escalating need, this government continues to respond with its head in the sand and patients are paying the price while our frontline healthcare workers shoulder the additional workload,” said Ms Mettam.