Fatigued ambos frustrated
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.