THE Ambulance Service of NSW says it has a dim view of people using ambulances as taxis into hospital or who use them simply to "jump the queue" at emergency departments."Patients transported to hospital by ambulance are still triaged in the same way as patients who self-present at the emergency department - they do not jump the queue by arriving in an ambulance," a spokesman from the Ambulance Service of NSW (ASNSW) said yesterday.But two Riverina residents have stepped forward this week, each with a horror story about being left to wait in agony at the emergency department (ED) at Wagga Base Hospital.Uranquinty resident Bill Brown and a Wagga woman identified only by her first name, Sarah, say they were left with no choice but to abandon their place in the "queue" and return to the ED by ambulance.Mr Brown and Sarah had nothing but praise for the paramedics who eased their suffering with medication on the return trip to hospital.Wagga paramedics admit much of their time is wasted dealing with medical cases that could be just as easily dealt with by a patient's general practitioner.They say the limited number of GPs in the city impacts on their work."GPs not being available and cutting down their working days to just a couple of days a week, people are using ambos as defacto GPs. A lot of cases could have been quite easily dealt with by a GP," said a paramedic."But after-hours GPs are expensive and GP waiting lists are long."A spokesman for ASNSW said people need to consider others when they decide to call an ambulance."The ambulance service would discourage people from using ambulances as taxis to EDs, as ambulances are a valuable emergency medical resource that should be used appropriately by the community to respond to emergencies," he said.
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