Staffing changes at the Maclean ambulance station will not result in the availability of extra ambulances and will actually put lives at risk, according to paramedics.
Despite an increase in staffing at the station, Australian Paramedics Association NSW [APA NSW] president Steve Pearce has described changes as “ludicrous”.
“This is a ludicrous decision by NSW Ambulance to beef up paramedic numbers but at the same time adjust rosters to eliminate night-time call outs in which paramedics attend to emergencies,” Mr Pearce said.
NSW Ambulance has increased the staffing number of paramedics at the Maclean station from five to 12, following funding commitments from the NSW Government.
A media statement from NSW Ambulance said that with the doubling of staff at the Maclean ambulance station, “it will provide 24-hour on duty coverage with two day-shift paramedics and two night-shift paramedics based out of Maclean”.
However, the implementation of the new 24-hour rostered operations, which began on Saturday May 20, has not provided the community with an available additional ambulance, which could attend in an emergency.
A spokesperson from NSW Ambulance told the Independent that although the Maclean station had three ambulances, the new 24-hour roster did not include any ‘on call’ paramedics to man them.
NSW Ambulance has made provision for operation of only one ambulance at Maclean, which was frequently out of the area transporting critically ill patients to Lismore hospital or across the border to Queensland.
APA NSW delegate and paramedic Todd Hart said that it was disappointing that there has not been appropriate planning gone into the new roster.
“They [NSW Ambulance] need to put ‘on call’ crew back into the roster and give them back to the community of Maclean,” Mr Hart said.
“Grafton, Ballina and Lismore are all 24-hour stations with ‘on call’ paramedics – why does Maclean not deserve the same?
“We’ve got the staff and the vehicles; what we don’t have is a roster that works effectively.
“Despite the stories recently in the media calling out for a second ambulance at Maclean, NSW Ambulance doesn’t believe that a second ambulance is required.
“They have a duty of care to the community and they have been fighting this all the way.”
Mr Hart said that the community needs to get behind this and start voicing their complaints to the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW Ambulance CEO Dominic Morgan.
The matter is currently before the Industrial Relations Commission.
“We’re not letting this go, because people’s lives are at risk.”