Welcome Findings of "Ambulance Services in Regional NSW"

Published on 04 July 2024


Berrigan Shire Council welcomes the findings of the recent report from the New South Wales (NSW) Auditor-General that supports its view that the response times provided previously in relation to ambulance attendance in Tocumwal are inaccurate.  The report sheds light on several critical areas, especially that prior reporting obscures differences in regional and metropolitan performance. 

In correspondence to Council received in 2022 Health Minister Ryan Park claimed that average response times for category 1 and 2 emergencies in Tocumwal were in the vicinity of 8 minutes.  Similar statistics have been quoted to media outlets. “We knew these statistics could not be correct.  Even with lights and sirens it would not be possible to get to Tocumwal in that time from the nearest ambulance station in Finley” said Mayor Julia.  Upon further enquiry, Berrigan Shire Council established the statistics quoted were for the ABS area ‘Upper Murray’. “According to the ABS, Upper Murray extends along the Murray River and has a population exceeding 40,000 people.  Tocumwal is a tiny part of that region with a population of just under 3000.  It was simply incorrect, unfair and insulting to suggest that the quoted statistics relate to ambulance response times in Tocumwal”. 

Mayor Julia noted key findings within the report, one indicating that only one out of fifteen indicators directly relate to clinical service delivery in regional New South Wales. This stresses the need for a more focused approach in assessing and improving ambulance services in regional areas.

The report points out the key performance indicator used to assess ambulance response times only reflects the fastest 50% of incidents. “Through an information request from NSW Ambulance received recently we have established that the average ambulance response time to Tocumwal is approximately 40 minutes, well outside even the regional statistics.” Mayor Julia said

In 2022–23, the median response time for Priority 1A incidents was similar between metropolitan and regional zones (8.27 and 8.64 minutes, respectively). However, when considering the 85th percentile, metropolitan performance (13.58 minutes) was significantly superior to regional performance (17.88 minutes). This discrepancy highlights the need for improved system oversight and the development of new performance indicators aimed at the regional level by June 2025.

The challenges faced by ambulances in regional New South Wales, such as greater travel distances and the provision of more non-emergency patient transport services, were also highlighted. The report emphasises that statewide performance metrics do not sufficiently reflect the performance in regional areas.


NSW Health has identified health outcomes in regional New South Wales as a strategic priority. To improve oversight of system performance, it is recommended regional performance across key indicators be routinely considered, similar to the monitoring of transfer of care times at the individual Local Health District level.

“We are heartened to see that the audit office has recognised discrepancies in reporting response times and welcome further discussions with Minister Park and NSW ambulance about establishing a permanent ambulance station in Tocumwal,” said Mayor Julia. “We will continue to advocate strongly for the establishment of an ambulance station in Tocumwal.  Our community deserves better.”

Berrigan Shire Council appreciate the detailed analysis and recommendations provided in the report. The establishment of an ambulance station in Tocumwal will significantly improve healthcare outcomes for our community. We look forward to further announcements and continued improvements in the delivery of ambulance services in regional New South Wales.


Further information:
Keelan McDonald
Communications, Marketing and Engagement 

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