Promise of at least 50 extra ambulance officers

The State Government has announced it has offered to employ at least 50 extra ambulance officers as part of its commitment to improve South Australia’s ambulance service and resolve the ongoing industrial dispute with the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA).

The extra 50 ambulance officers are:

  • In addition to the extra 187 full-time equivalent staff employed in the first two years of the Marshall Government (from July 2018 to June 2020) according to the Auditor-General; and
  • On top of the 76 additional staff budgeted for this year

And Treasurer Rob Lucas has promised the Government will invest in even more ambulance officers once all enterprise bargaining negotiations with the union have been finalised.

Mr Lucas has called on the union to immediately cease all industrial action and accept the offer, which will help ease the burden on existing crews and which also includes shorter shifts and better access to meal breaks.

“We have always said we are willing to put in more resources, and today we are announcing that we have offered to immediately invest in at least an extra 50 ambulance officers conditional upon the union agreeing to roster reform, ambos taking meal breaks at their nearest station and cessation of industrial action,” Mr Lucas said.

“We recognise the enormous contribution our hardworking ambos make to our community and this offer will help ensure they can deliver the best possible service to South Australians while reducing fatigue and improving work-life balance.

“The Government has also committed to employing even more ambos upon full resolution of enterprise bargaining negotiations.

“However, we know that more staff alone is not going to deliver the safest and highest quality ambulance service and help solve the issue of ramping, which is why we also need sensible industrial reforms.”

Mr Lucas said the Government’s offer is conditional on the union agreeing to sensible industrial reforms such as:

  • Reducing long, tiring 12-hour shifts to 8-hour and 10-hour shifts; and
  • Ending the policy of wasting time driving up to 35km past 3 or 4 stations to return to a home station to take a meal break, instead of taking a break at the nearest station

“The reality is these reforms are necessary in order to properly heal our health system. If it was just a matter of hiring more ambos, then ambulance delays would not be a problem because we have already employed more than 200 extra staff.

“We have put on 187 extra FTEs, on top of that we’ve budgeted an additional 76 ambos and we’re now offering at least an extra 50 on top of that. Even with more than 200 extra staff, we will continue to have issues unless the union bosses agree to these sensible reforms.”

SA has the second highest per capita spend on ambulance resources in the nation, and the Government is investing more than $100 million to upgrade metropolitan EDs creating an extra 100 treatment spaces in our public hospitals.

AEA union boss Phil Palmer has publicly said he is willing to consider reform, but he’s never committed to making the required significant changes.

Mr Lucas said: “We simply can’t understand why the union is so wedded to longer, more exhausting 12-hour shifts that they would be prepared to let that stand in the way of the extra staff they say they so desperately need.

“We remain of the view that the only way to resolve this industrial dispute is for there to be compromise on both sides.”

The Government and union attended mediation in the SA Employment Tribunal again yesterday afternoon and will return today at 9am.

“The Government has demonstrated its willingness to compromise, to put in additional resources, and now the union must also commit to compromise.

“And if they won’t, they must explain to South Australians why 12-hour shifts are apparently more important to them than having more paramedics out on the road, responding to patients.”

/Public News. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length.