Crisis in ambulance resourcing as paramedics take industrial action

Australian Paramedics Association (NSW)

Patients waited hours for an ambulance yesterday while managerial staff were pulled from offices to ambulances as South West Sydney hit ‘Status 3’: an emergency designation once reserved for genuine crises. Paramedics state-wide are taking industrial action over ongoing resourcing failures.

The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) reports that patients waited up to 4 hours for an ambulance after calling Triple Zero, and Paramedics spent up to 3 hours per patient in ‘bed block’ (waiting outside a hospital to offload the patient).

“By the time we’re at Status 3, NSW Ambulance are pulling every possible staff member from other roles to respond to Triple Zero calls—including Educators, Managers and Executive Managers, and Paramedics on day one of the job,” said APA (NSW) President Chris Kastelan.

“There is nowhere to go after Status 3: that’s as bad as it gets, and as far as the planning goes to deliver services.”

“We’ve been hitting emergency Status levels too often and too easily, and that’s of grave concern to Paramedics who are now struggling with their confidence in current leadership at NSW Ambulance.

“Metro Sydney reaching the highest emergency designation on an absolutely ordinary Monday is a sure sign that resource planning at NSW Ambulance is going dangerously wrong.”

NSW Paramedics are engaged in industrial action over resourcing shortages, prompted by widespread outrage by an incident two weeks ago when Ambulance told all crews they could not go home at the end of their 12 hour shifts due to call backlog when Sydney was at Status 2.

This directive breached the Award as well as internal protocols on end of shift overtime, and some control staff walked off the job rather than directing fatigued crews to continue.

“Patients and Paramedics are currently being put at risk”, said Mr Kastelan.

“Where are the extra paramedics that Ambulance keeps telling us are on the road?

“Paramedics are struggling under an ever-increasing workload, with nothing changing and Ambulance resisting all of our attempts to improve coverage for our communities.

“This has been going on too long, and with no help in sight paramedics are considering escalating their industrial action to match the urgency of these current times.”

Resourcing shortages are at crisis levels around the state. Minimum Operating Levels at the NSW Ambulance have not been significantly increased since 2010, despite growth in population and demand.

APA (NSW) is calling on NSW Health to intervene as a matter of urgency to address the current crisis and bring relief to the state’s dangerously fatigued Paramedics.

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