Roster fears are unfounded

A TOP NSW ambulance service bureaucrat has dismissed union fears that rostering changes will increase paramedic fatigue at smaller stations in the Albury region.

To the contrary, NSW Ambulance regional operations director Mark Beesley said the new rosters would reduce fatigue and improve services.

The Health Services Union has claimed the new rosters would make paramedics work more days per year and spend more time on-call, with fewer breaks in between.

It argued this was especially the case at smaller stations such as Corowa, Holbrook and Berrigan.

But Mr Beesley said the opposite was true.

“In regional NSW, the peak demand period continues into the evenings and on-call paramedics currently face extended work hours due to the high number of disturbances out of hours,” he said.

“As a consequence, NSW Ambulance is introducing additional shifts during the peak evening period to reduce the need for paramedics to be called out after hours.”

Mr Beesley said this approach helped to improve paramedics’ response to patients and minimised the officers’ fatigue.

Union sub-branch president Peter Wortmann said the concern of paramedics was they would be made to work seven days straight then have two days off, before working another seven days straight while being on-call every night.

The Corowa paramedic said there was a lot of concern about the rosters among paramedics across the region including Albury, which he predicted would eventually feel the consequences of the changes.

But Mr Beesley said Albury would not be affected by the roster “reforms” because it was a 24-hour station.

“Current regional rosters for non-24 hour ambulance stations include shifts of up to 11 hours, mostly during the day, with evening and night periods covered by on-call paramedics,” he said.

“We are reducing the current shifts to mostly eight hours and introducing an afternoon shift which will cover the period up to midnight at stations experiencing high workload.”

The union is concerned that introducing the afternoon shift would result in instances where Corowa could lose one of its five paramedics to another station.

Mr Beesley pointed out the new roster would allow for a minimum of a 10-hour break between shifts, “except in case of an emergency”.