The National Heart Foundation of Australia wants all Australians to have access to universal ambulance cover, following research that identified cost as a barrier for calling Triple Zero (000) for up to 650,000 people.
The Heart Foundation strongly recommends people who are experiencing heart attack warning signs seek emergency medical care by promptly calling Triple Zero (000).
"Research has found that the cost of ambulance care influences many people to delay or avoid calling Triple Zero (000) for life-threatening conditions such as heart attack", Dr Lyn Roberts, National CEO of the Heart Foundation, said today.
"This can result in extended delays to treatment," she said.
'Universal ambulance cover' means every Australian has the opportunity to promptly access free ambulance care in times of an emergency, without having to worry about whether they can afford it or not.
The Heart Foundation has developed a position statement that outlines the rationale for universal ambulance cover, along with options for aligning ambulance care to ensure more reliable and consistent funding Australia wide.
In a national survey of over 11,000 people, 43.5% of respondents outside of QLD and TAS (these states already have universal ambulance cover) and who are not covered for an ambulance said it would be too expensive to call Triple 000 if they thought they were experiencing a heart attack.
"What this research highlights is that the ambulance service is an integral part of heart attack care, not just a transport service," Dr Roberts said.
"An important part of managing a heart attack begins from the time you call '000'."
Dr Roberts said the organisation recognised that the issue of ambulance cover will take some time to solve.
"We look forward to discussing this matter with all Governments in the coming months to work out how this could best be achieved," she said.
"Sadly of the 10,000 people who die of heart attack each year, 50% fail to even make it to hospital because the took too long to call Triple Zero."
A copy of the position statement is available at: Heart Foundation