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Victorian ambos improve response times

AAP logoAAP 1/08/2016 By Luke Costin

Almost one in four Victorians in dire need of an ambulance are waiting more than 15 minutes for one to arrive.

Rural Victorians are most likely to suffer from poor response times for urgent emergencies, with Ambulance Victoria data released on Monday showing wait times exceed 20 minutes in a quarter of local government areas outside Melbourne.

But overall response times for code 1 emergencies - where lights and sirens are activated - have decreased across the state in the year to June, to an average of 13 minutes and five seconds.

Those code 1 emergencies attended within 15 minutes rose 0.9 percentage points to 75.2 per cent but that still falls well short of the target of 85 per cent.

Ambulance Victoria chief executive Tony Walker says triple-zero operators are now spending more time gathering information to determine which calls require a lights-and-sirens response.

One in five calls are for non-emergency matters including "silly calls" for trivial incidents such as cat scratches, he said.

"If it turns out not to be (a life-threatening emergency) then we'll go to what we call our secondary triage where a paramedic or nurse will spend time on the phone to understand what the problem is," he told reporters on Monday.

The state opposition argues the Andrews government has failed to improve ambulance response times by "any meaningful amount" since winning power in December 2014.

Opposition health spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge on Monday noted hospital transfer times from April to June this year showed almost one in six ambulance patients spent more than 40 minutes in hospital waiting areas before admission.

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