Family slapped with $1900 bill for ambulance that never turned up

·2-min read

A couple from Victoria are fuming, saying they were slapped with a $1900 bill for an ambulance that never arrived.

In May this year, 15-month-old Lawson became unresponsive after a seizure, so his parents Ashley Walter and Tamika Franklin called for an ambulance.

Mr Walter told 7News the phone was busy the first few times he called, but they were finally able to get through on the fifth attempt.

However, the couple claim they were told a Triple-0 operator nor an ambulance could be allocated, forcing them to drive their son to Kyabram hospital in Central Victoria.

Ashley Walter and Tamika Franklin with their son after the ambulance debacle.
Ashley Walter and Tamika Franklin had to drive their son to the hospital after they were unable to get an ambulance. Source: 7News

They found the urgent care unit at Kyabram hospital was closed and staff tried calling for an ambulance to take them to Shepparton, but it took another 45 minutes for it to arrive.

The specialist intensive care ambulance was not available and had to meet them halfway on their journey to Goulburn Valley Hospital in Shepparton, The Herald Sun reported.

Once they arrived at the hospital, Mr Walter said there were a dozen ambulances waiting out front to be unloaded.

Lawson is recovering but after the ordeal Mr Walter said the only communication they received from Ambulance Victoria was the $1894 bill for the two-part journey. He said Ambulance Victoria never called to apologise.

"I said 'like hell, I'm paying for this'," Mr Walter told 7News.

"I'm not going to pay for a service I never received."

The family was then billed almost $1900 for the ambulance. Victoria Ambulance said the family will not have to pay it. Source: 7News
The family was then billed almost $1900 for the ambulance. Victoria Ambulance said the family will not have to pay it. Source: 7News

Victoria's ambulance crisis

The fee was withdrawn on Tuesday after media inquiries to Ambulance Victoria (AV). Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said she "would imagine" Ambulance Victoria is looking into the matter.

"The important thing here is that AV has reached out to that family and reassured them that whatever the circumstances are of what happened, that bill is not required to be paid," she told the Herald Sun.

Victoria's ambulance service has been under immense pressure, with at least seven code reds declared this year, the most recent being on last Sunday.

Lindsay Mackay, Ambulance Victoria's executive director of operational communications, said Covid-19 had a significant impact on the service.

"We've had approximately 170 paramedics that have been furloughed every day this week due to Covid and we're just not immune to it, like anybody else," Ms Mackay said.

"So we are experiencing that as an ongoing challenge and obviously with the flu season it will continue to be a challenge."

With AAP

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