Stressed ambos eat up $ 16.2m allowances
AN allowance paid to paramedics who miss out on meal breaks is now costing the state $ 16.2 million every year – about the same as the salaries of about 200 extra ambulance staff.
But Health Minister Cameron Dick has refused to be drawn on whether any steps have been taken to implement a 2014 Queensland Industrial Relations Commission ( QIRC) decision to overhaul the entitlement, saying the Palaszczuk Government supports the allowance.
Figures obtained by the LNP Opposition and tabled in Parliament show missed meal payments to paramedics cost taxpayers $ 16.2 million in 2015- 16 – an increase of 252 per cent on 2009- 10 when the allowance cost $ 4.6 million.
The number of paramedics employed by Queensland Ambulance Service ( QAS) grew 17 per cent over the same time period, federal government reports show. The missed meal payment is paid to paramedics working 12- hour shifts when they are too busy to take the two 30- minute meal breaks they are entitled to.
Mr Dick yesterday blamed the ballooning allowance on “higher workloads stemming from increased demand for ambulance services”.
He said that ambulance call- outs had increased from 750,442 in 2009- 10 to more than one million in 2015- 16 – an increase of around 33 per cent.