Union warns of paramedic danger

PARAMEDICS across the Northern Rivers are concerned changes to rostering in rural NSW could place lives at risk.

As a result of budget cuts, a new Ambulance NSW draft fatigue management policy and rural roster reform could make paramedics work more days in a row, with more hours on-call, which will reduce their days off.

The changes could reduce shifts from 10 hours to eight, but increase a paramedic's on-call hours to 16 hours a day.

Health Services Union NSW North Coast organiser Ken McIntosh said he had received numerous calls from Northern Rivers paramedics expressing their concern at the proposed changes.

"It is going to have them actually working more and not less, like the service is stating," Mr McIntosh said.

"They will be working five full days of the week and when they finish their shift they will be on call 16 hours a day.

"So their first day off ends up being a recovery day and they are left with one day a week, if they're lucky, to spend with their family."

Paramedics who are on call cannot leave the town they are stationed in and are in a constant state of readiness to respond to an incident, something Mr McIntosh said many paramedics claimed increased stress and fatigue.

As a result, Mr McIntosh said many Northern Rivers paramedics had expressed serious concerns patient care could be compromised.

"Patient care could be compromised because of fatigue problems, because by reducing the rostered shift hours the ambulance service claims paramedics will be working less, but what they are really doing is increasing the amount of overtime they will have to work."

Healthy support

To voice your support for the paramedics contact member for Lismore Thomas George on 6621 3624.

Alternatively visit the Health Services Union rural ambos Facebook page to register your support at facebook.com/pages/HSU-Rural-Ambos.

Supporter details will be compiled by the union on a petition which will be presented to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

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