The NSW Government has announced that it will commission 69 new state of the art ambulances across the state; 16 of which will be located on the NSW north coast at a cost of nearly $12 million.
Member of the Legislative Council, Ben Franklin, who represents the region, said fitting higher tech equipment in the ambulances, including upgraded life-saving defibrillators, video laryngoscopes and mechanical CPR devices, would buy life-saving time for patients before they reached hospital emergency departments.
“In 2020-21 the Nationals in NSW Government are investing more than $1 billion in NSW Ambulance, including $27 million for 180 new staff, the third tranche of the 2018 commitment to recruit 750 more paramedic and control centre staff over four years,” Mr Franklin said in a media release.
Meanwhile, the Health Services Union (HSU) has welcomed the announcement; however, it will lobby the government to follow through with the appropriate training of paramedics.
In a media release titled, ‘New regional intensive care ambulances must be fully staffed’, the HSU says, “to fully take advantage of the new vehicles, a greater number of paramedics are needed along with better access to training”.
In March 2020, the HSU made a seven-page submission to the NSW health minister, advocating “progress towards” attaining “an intensive care ambulance crew for every 50,000 people in regional NSW”.
“In doing so, the HSU submits that this enhancement is necessary to achieve the objectives of equity, ensuring that all patients receive the highest quality care regardless of where they live,” the submission stated.
“These ambulances are an excellent first step but there are paramedics screaming for the opportunity to be up-skilled to intensive care status in regional NSW right now,” HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said in a media release.
“We need at least one 12-person intensive care paramedic crew for every 50,000 people, immediately.
“We are currently well below that ratio.
“The best thing the NSW Government could do right now is fund NSW Ambulance to allow regional paramedics to undertake the intensive care course in the region.
“That will allow paramedics to make the most of these new vehicles and best serve their communities.
“This is a great first step; the proof will be in the follow through.”
Responding to Mr Hayes’s call for training, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis told the Independent that he “absolutely supports the extra training”.
“It should take place in the country,” he said.
“If they train in the country they tend to stay in the country.”
He said it is a “positive step that we are going to get more intensive care paramedics in regional areas”.
“Frankly, we need more – in a lot of small towns there is no intensive care nurse; paramedics can play that role,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“Clearly there is a disparity between the numbers of intensive care paramedics in the city compared to the country regions.”
Mr Gulaptis said he “understands there are enough paramedics to service the vehicles across NSW”.