Paramedics happy with outcome

LOCAL paramedics and the Health Services Union (HSU) have claimed a win in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) today after the NSW Ambulance Service agreed to drop a controversial dispatch clause.

The clause involves the Service utilising on-duty crews over on-call crews, despite the fact one ambulance might be closer to an emergency than the other.

The HSU claimed the directive was affecting patient outcome.

Disagreement over the clause, which was implemented to reduce overtime, came to a head on Thursday when the Union threatened that paramedics would boycott all horse race meets unless the problem was resolved.

Race meets cannot go ahead without ambulance services on the sideline.

After lengthy discussion in the IRC today, the Ambulance Service agreed to remove the on-duty clause.

"The main aim was to improve the response times and to have the closest available crews responded," HSU North Coast organiser Ken McIntosh said.

"We would call (this) a win. There is still further to go but this is definitely a win."

The Union also has one week to provide the Ambulance Service with a list of cases that attracted inappropriate response times.

The Service have three weeks to respond.

The Northern Rivers has been plagued by a succession of blown-out response times in recent months.

Last month a South Grafton man died after he suffered a cardiac arrest and had to wait for a Maclean on-duty crew to respond.

On another occasion, a kidney dialysis patient called an ambulance from her Myocum home owing to severe leg pain.

She waited almost two-and-a-half hours for an ambulance.

On October 7, a Ballina man who collapsed and was discovered to have a irregular heart beat and required a overnight stay in hospital, waited an hour and a half for a ambulance - an hour longer than the Ambulance Service's own guidelines.

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