Paramedics David Jeffrey and Gavin Bridges talk to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Nationals Candidate for the Clarence by-election Chris Gulaptis at the Yamba Ambulance Station about issues facing the NSW Ambulance service.
Paramedics David Jeffrey and Gavin Bridges talk to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Nationals Candidate for the Clarence by-election Chris Gulaptis at the Yamba Ambulance Station about issues facing the NSW Ambulance service. Rodney Stevens

Union accused of driving campaign

JILLIAN Skinner has accused the Health Services Union of steering a campaign by paramedics calling for more staff and resources.

Clarence Valley paramedics have told The Daily Examiner the new business plan for the NSW Ambulance Service could result in delayed response times which could lead to deaths.

But the NSW Health Minister said the union was encouraging members to highlight their concerns to the media.

"The Health Services Union is conducting a campaign right across the State at the moment," Mrs Skinner said.

She said she accepted the ambulance service, like the health service, could do with more funding, but she said a review of the service that was under way could see positive changes for paramedics.

"I have asked the director-general to look at the operations of the ambulance service including pooling together all of the previous reviews that have been done; there have been six ."

One change Mrs Skinner said Peter Garling identified in his 2008 review of the health service was changing paramedics' duties, requiring them to treat people with minor ailments on site rather than transporting them to hospital.

Mrs Skinner put forward the example of treating an elderly person in a nursing home who would not spend a night in hospital, rather than transporting them, therefore freeing up service at hospitals for more critical patients.

When questioned about giving already understaffed paramedics extra duties, Mrs Skinner claimed it was a change and not an extra duty.

She said the NSW Ambulance Service received a funding boost in the recent O'Farrell Government budget, but could not put a dollar figure on the increased funding. Mrs Skinner said she had no specific information regarding claims by the Health Services Union that 30 more paramedics had been allocated to the North Coast.



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