Paramedics are ramping up their push for better conditions on shifts ahead of a planned 12-hour strike on Friday.
The Australian Paramedics Association (APA NSW) says members will only attend emergency 'lights and sirens' (Priority 1) call-outs between 7am-7pm on December 1.
Although the union has reassured people that they will receive an emergency ambulance response during the industrial action, their stance remains firm - offer a 'fair' deal.
APA NSW Delegate Adam Coombes has been a paramedic for six and half years. His permanent station is the Kogarah super station, but was recently seconded to the Bundeena station to fill a staffing gap.
Among one of the significant challenges in the area he said, was working a system that dictated minimum operating numbers.
"We used to have this in a sector by sector manner but now frustratingly management has shifted to a metropolitan PAR system," Mr Coombes said. "The adverse effect of this is sectors such as the south Sydney catchment could have a crew offline due to normal absenteeism, but our zone manager will not authorise overtime to cover that vacancy for the shift, if for example another sector like western Sydney, has an additional crew. Thereby response times for our area will be sub-optimal and/or crews working that day will be unnecessarily overworked."
He said it was a "sneaky tactic of rostering management" that presents an increase in staff numbers that government approved for funding. "But the minimum PAR numbers have not been increased to accommodate those numbers," Mr Coombes said. "It means that any absenteeism are not back filled using overtime labour when there is typically staff available and willing to work."
He also said because of the ageing population and a "disproportionately higher amount of aged care facilities in the local health district", the workload continued to increase for non-urgent patient needs.
"A significant concern is the fluid deployment of staff to cover gaps in rostering. An ambulance crew could be siphoned away from the Kogarah area to work out of the Haberfield area for the shift, thereby leaving a shortage in [St George] for the day," he said. "It unnecessarily results in extension of shift for that crew in coming back to Kogarah to finish the shift."
Mr Coombes said union representatives wanted pay parity with Queensland Ambulance. "If their government can afford to pay their paramedics some 25 per cent more than us with a smaller population therefore tax revenue and a cheaper average cost of living, we should be able to be paid the same," he said.
"We are advocating for the roster enhancements of 750 additional paramedics to form part of the stipulated PAR rostering minimums and having the specialist Extend Care Paramedics (ECP) form part of this PAR minimum. ECP perform a raft of non emergency care treatment with the aim of keeping people out of hospital and therefore saves the health system thousands. Right now there is no minimum servicing level in our sector for this extremely valuable and cost-saving service."
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