Ambulances delayed 36 minutes on average at John Hunter

ONE in three ambulance crews were delayed for more than half an hour at NSW hospitals, including at the John Hunter Hospital where ambulances waited about 36 minutes on average, the Auditor General has found.

In his latest report released this morning, Peter Achterstraat said the delays at hospitals totalled 84,680 lost hours in 2011-12, more than the 78,224 hours ambulance crews spent waiting the year before.

Gosford Hospital was the worst performer, with crews waiting an average 42 minutes, compared to the statewide average of 30 minutes.

Delays at the John Hunter were also worse than the previous year, up from about 32 minutes.

‘‘The longer ambulance crews are at hospitals the less time they are available to respond to the next emergency,’’ Mr Achterstraat said.

There was also the financial cost of delays, about $6.9 million in 2011-12, compared to $6.1 million the year before.

Mr Achterstraat said demand for ambulances had increased by nearly five per cent from last year, while the number of times ambulance crews took more than half an hour to transfer patients and return to their vehicle increased by nearly 10 per cent.

In a statement, Health minister Jillian Skinner said the government was today releasing a reform plan for ambulance services, which also followed a separate independent review.