Funding for Ceduna’s Community Paramedic service could be cut as the state government aims to trim its budget.
The program, which has been running for three years, involves two paramedics on a rotating roster being on call for a week at a time in an inter-agency collaboration within Ceduna.
Community Paramedics act as a liaison and may refer people into other health services in Ceduna, or help to educate and engage by linking people with the correct healthcare pathway in the town.
SA Health funding of $445,000 a year is supporting the Ceduna program, however that funding is set to cease at the end of September and leaves the service at risk of being shut down.
Ceduna mayor Allan Suter said budget pressures inherited by the new state government meant the program was at risk.
He said the service was an extremely important initiative, which was saving lives and proving to be a massive help to some of the community’s more vulnerable people.
Mr Suter said he has since written to the Minister for Health Stephen Wade and has been in contact with Member for Flinders Peter Treloar.
“I hope common sense prevails, it should as this is a service that shouldn’t be taken away,” Mr Suter said.
“It is too valuable a program to be affected by cost-cutting and there are other less vital services that can be trimmed.
“We get very few services compared to metro areas and I understand the government needs to do its trimming, but this is a highly inappropriate place to do trimming.”
Mr Suter said the government should not take away regional services and that $445,000 was “a drop in the bucket” compared to money spent for service funding in Adelaide.
An SA Health spokesperson said they were looking into how to progress with the Community Paramedic program.
“SA Ambulance Service introduced community paramedics to Ceduna and Robe in 2015 as part of a trial to enhance locally‑driven health service delivery and to improve the health of people living in regional communities,” the spokesperson said.
“SA Health have been pleased to see some excellent results from the trial and are currently exploring, with a number of partners, the long term future of the model.”
Mr Suter said the Community Paramedic program was “simply crucial” to the Ceduna community because of the lives it helped.
He also cited the relationship the paramedics had established with the community and their role within the local health system.
“What the minister also needs to take into account is that it generates savings in other areas of health services.”
Mr Treloar said he had written to Mr Wade in support of Ceduna’s endeavour to retain the Community Paramedic service.
“Many Ceduna groups and organisations have expressed the value and importance of this program and are deeply concerned with the discontinuation of funding of this critical service.
“I understand the Community Paramedic service offers acute first aid assistance to the whole community, including mobile preventative health checks within Ceduna.
“It is also comforting for the remote communities and Eyre Highway commuters to know that qualified and trained help is on its way when accidents occur, as distance is a major barrier for the Far West region.”