Fa­tigued am­bos frus­trated

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Nathan Paull

NORTH Queens­land am­bu­lance of­fi­cers will con­tinue their fight for more s t a f f a s t h e y b a t t l e fa­tigue and frus­tra­tion by work­ing overtime to meet de­mands.

T h e U n i t e d V o i c e union, which rep­re­sents p a r a m e d i c s , m e t i n Townsville this week to dis­cuss is­sues af­fect­ing the re­gion’s am­bu­lance o f f i c e r s , p a r t i c u l a r l y overtime and staffing prob­lems.

United Voice’s am­bu­lance co-or­di­na­tor Jane t t e T e mp e r l e y s a i d while the is­sues af­fected the en­tire state, they were par­tic­u­larly prom­i­nent in the North.

‘‘ We need to be re­sourc­ing the ser­vice prop­erly and suf­fi­ciently and ob­vi­ously that is not the case,’’ she said.

‘‘ We’ve got am­bu­lance of­fi­cers work­ing in­cred­i­ble overtime to cover shifts and things like that.

‘‘ The re­sources were promised years ago by the gov­ern­ment . . . but w e ’ v e p r o b a b l y g o t

Aaron Harper just over half of that.’’

Ms T e mpe r l e y s a i d pop­u­la­tion and there­fore de­mand for am­bu­lance of­fi­cers was grow­ing in the North, but sup­port f r om t he gov­ern­ment was not.

‘‘ What we need the gov­ern­ment to re­alise that the com­mu­nity ex­pects a cer­tain stan­dard and that ba­si­cally means that we need more peo­ple,’’ she said.

Townsville-based union del­e­gate Aaron Harper said the Queens­land Am­bu­lance Ser­vice had been forced to ros­ter staff on overtime on no­to­ri­ously busy Fri­day and Satur­day nights just to have enough peo­ple on duty.

Mr Harper said North Q u e e n s l a n d n e e d e d about 30 new paramedics within the next fi­nan­cial year just to meet ba­sic de­mands.

‘‘ It’s not good for paramedics to be work­ing ex­tended shifts, not ac­cess­ing their meal breaks and it just de­creases morale and in­creases fa­tigue,’’ he said.

‘‘ We don’t want de­lays in get­ting am­bu­lances out to peo­ple, but they’re putting pres­sure on us as a ser­vice.’’

Mr Harper said paramedics would lobby gove r n ment r a t h e r t h a n strike, given their im­por­tance t o t he com­mu­nity, but it showed t h a t t h e g o v e r n ment could not cut costs at the ex­pense of the work am­bu­lance of­fi­cers do.

The is­sue came to a head late last year when the Bul­letin ob­tained fig­ures which re­vealed staff logged more than 6000 ex­tra overtime hours last fi­nan­cial year than in 2008/ 09.

The 10.5 per cent in­crease, from 58,923 hours to 65,150 hours, came as the state’s to­tal am­bu­lance staff de­creased by 2.5 per cent.

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