Despite very few COVID-19 cases in hospitals, ambulance ramping has spiked almost 40% on the same time last year.

St John’s Ambulance WA recorded 4351 hours of ambulance ramping outside our hospitals for February, up from the 3156 hours recorded in February 2021. It’s also considerably higher than the 3676 hours recorded in January 2022.

“With only 11 patients in hospital with COVID symptoms yesterday and very few flu cases in the community, it is extraordinary that we are recording such shocking ramping figures,” Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said.

“It raises the question of whether the McGowan Government’s premature introduction of Level 2 restrictions is due to a hospital system already under increasing strain before any real peak in COVID or flu cases.

“Last year, ambulance ramping was the worst on record with more than 52,000 hours reported, more than double the 2020 figure 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.

“This is far from the reality this Labor Government is delivering for Western Australians with bed block and a lack of any capacity in the system resulting in patients waiting for hours on end in ambulances or hospital corridors to be admitted.”

Ms Mettam said for the first two months alone, WA had recorded 8027 hours of ramping, 10% more than at the same time in 2021 (7309 hours).

“The new Health Minister’s comments about the recent downward trend in ramping since since August is nothing more than spin when you consider that August was the highest month on record (6525 hours).”

While the McGowan Government made 11th hour commitments after the budget for additional beds, these won’t all be delivered until October, after the winter flu season.

“Despite watching the diabolical upward trend in ambulance ramping last year, this Government sat on its hands until late last year when it finally sat up and started actually committing to investing in the resources needed to help ease pressure on hospitals.

“At the same time as it was watching these figures escalate, Labor members initiated an inquiry into ambulance service delivery to detract attention from the real problem – the hospitals don’t have capacity. It’s astounding and highlights yet again a government that is big on spin but not much else.”

Ambulance ramping statistics – February comparison:

February 2017 – 691.5
February 2018 – 874.7
February 2019 – 1804.7
February 2020 – 1766.1
February 2021 – 3156.6
February 2022 – 4351.1