Stressed am­bos eat up $ 16.2m al­lowances

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - KARA VICK­ERY

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.

Cameron Dick.

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