Medics protest over staff changes

ALBURY district ambulance officers joined their NSW colleagues in a statewide protest yesterday against staffing shortages.

Paramedics at the station wore fluorescent yellow vests while on duty to draw attention to their anger and frustration over increasing work hours.

The Health Services Union’s NSW branch said paramedics were working “oppressive” workloads that had now reached a crisis point.

“Our members just can’t meet the demand for their services,” union acting industrial manager Tom Stevanja said.

“The ambulance service is playing around with their rosters, but doing nothing to address the actual problem.”

The union repeated its claim new NSW Ambulance Service rosters were doing a disservice to its members, something the organisation has rejected.

Paramedics across the region, including staff at Albury’s 24-hour station, are known to be upset by the rosters.

It estimated there was a shortfall across NSW of at least 770 full-time staff.

The Albury and Corowa union representatives were on leave yesterday and not available for comment.

But Mr Stevenja said the changes to rural rosters had resulted in paramedics working a combination of on-the-job and on-call for up to 160 hours straight.

“We’re hearing horror stories from all over the place,” he said.

“Response times are blowing out and patients are suffering for it.”

The union wants NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to listen to its message “and to act to protect our members”.

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