BY OLIVIA DILLON
Paramedics will escalate their industrial action from Monday, in response to state-wide ambulance shortages.
The action comes after the Australian Paramedics Association NSW announced there were zero transport ambulances available for patients in Newcastle yesterday.
Illawarra and the Central Coast have also been stung by the shortages and had no vehicles available. Meanwhile there were only 8 cars available in the Sydney LGA.
An overflowing ambulance bay outside the John Hunter Hospital on Thursday also offered insight into the severity of the region’s healthcare crisis.
Secretary of the Hospital’s branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Rachel Hughes, told the Newcastle Herald this was a regular occurrence, with vehicles often forced to park on the road and in no stopping zones while they waited to offload patients.
As part of the proposed action, participating paramedics not be putting patient billing information on their electronic medical records, making it much harder for NSW Health to send patients an ambulance bill.
They will also be refusing staff movements, which would see them relocated to another station once on shift, and are calling for an additional 1500 staff.
State Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said the sector’s lack of support is bearing fatal consequences.
“People are waiting enormous times to actually get an ambulance. We had the terrible situation of a death of a Lake Macquarie woman who waited 7 hours for an ambulance back on the 29th of April, and she passed away only ten minutes after being admitted; that’s a catastrophe,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
A 31-year-old Maryland mother also passed away last year after suffering from anaphylactic shock and waiting an hour for an ambulance to arrive.
In response, NSW Ambulance is currently reviewing a pilot plan to use taxis to transport non-emergency patients to general practitioners and pharmacies.
However, there are concerns this would just transfer the workload onto already under-pressure GP’s.
Mr Crakanthorp wants all avenues to be considered, and said it’s fair enough paramedics are fed up.
“They’re tired of apologizing for attending to patients hours late and they’re passionate about their job, they’re passionate about healthcare, and when they can’t get to patients quickly enough, they’re devastated and so am I,” he said.
“On behalf of the community and myself, I’m calling on the government to increase resourcing and wages.”