The Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU), along with other health unions is a member of the Victorian Government Medical Emergency Response Times (MERT) Taskforce where we contributed our suggestions on ways to reduce ambulance ramping and demand on emergency departments.

Following visits to Triage Services and hearing the experiences of Triage Practitioners, the VAU have advocated to the Victorian Government for the expansion of alternative referral pathways and the introduction of specialist initiatives to allow aged care patients to receive treatment at home or in their aged care facility.

Today the Government announced funding for a specialised Virtual ED pathway called Residential Aged Care Enhanced Response (RACER) to help ease pressure on our hospitals and ambulances by connecting aged care facilities and residents who don’t need an emergency ambulance to Virtual ED.

RACER is expected to provide assessment and consultation to around 80 patients a day for low acuity medical issues without the need for ambulance attendance.

In circumstances where ambulances do attend, crews will still be able to assess and connect with RACER to consider options other than transport to hospital. RACER will partner with residential in-reach teams who can attend aged care facilities to provide care to patients in their home.

The VAU continues to advocate for other initiatives that we have put forward in the MERT taskforce that are yet to be delivered including the development of paramedic practitioner model to provide further treatment options for patients who do not require transportation to hospital. Talks on these and other initiatives are progressing.