Am­bu­lances now chas­ing dead­lines

Paramedics cop tighter turn­around

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Federal Politics - ANNABEL HEN­NESSY

PARAMEDICS are be­ing put un­der pres­sure to spend just 20 min­utes com­plet­ing med­i­cal records, re­stock­ing and ster­il­is­ing equip­ment and clean­ing the am­bu­lance in be­tween pa­tients.

The Health Ser­vices Union has voiced con­cerns about pa­tient safety af­ter NSW Am­bu­lance put out a di­rec­tive to staff warn­ing them they needed to no­tify a Con­trol Cen­tre if they spent more than 15 min­utes on “off stretcher” time.

The memo states the KPI for off-stretcher time is just 20 min­utes.

“Off stretcher” refers to the time paramedics have in be­tween pa­tients dur­ing which they clean the am­bu­lance, ster­ilise equip­ment and com­plete elec­tronic med­i­cal records.

Paramedics told The Satur­day Tele­graph they had seen col­leagues burst into tears try­ing to meet the dead­lines.

NSW HSU Sec­re­tary Ger­ard Hayes said paramedics had pre­vi­ously been given 30 min­utes to com­plete these tasks.

“It’s dan­ger­ous when you do what is called a Code 2, which is a car­diac ar­rest, you’re deal­ing with a range of drugs, de­fib­ril­la­tion … you’ve got a whole range of equip­ment that you’ve got to ster­ilise and you’ve got a med­i­cal elec­tronic record which you have to make sure is ab­so­lutely ac­cu­rate,” Mr Hayes said.

“Paramedics are not sit­ting around in emer­gency de­part­ments try­ing to watch the cricket.

“Try­ing to cut things down and cut cor­ners is go­ing to pro­duce poorer pa­tients’ out­comes.”

Mr Hayes said he was en­cour­ag­ing his mem­bers to ig­nore the di­rec­tive. The cam­paign against it is called “take five to sur­vive”.

Paramedic and HSU NSW del­e­gate Rob Har­ris told The Satur­day Tele­graph the di­rec­tive was un­rea­son­able and put­ting work­ers un­der pres­sure.

“As a front­line paramedic I’m un­der ex­treme pres­sure. When I did have half an hour that was hard enough but 20 min­utes is just un­re­al­is­tic,” Mr Har­ris said.

“I had an­other paramedic cry­ing the other day over this … you have to re­stock medicine, deal with very sen­si­tive med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and of­ten clean vomit.”

How­ever a NSW Am­bu­lance spokes­woman said the tar­get had been in place for some time.

“For a num­ber of years the make ready time at hos­pi­tals has had a tar­get of 20 min­utes,” she said.

“NSW Am­bu­lance has re­cently clar­i­fied with the work­force that there may be cases where ad­di­tional time may be re­quired to sat­is­fac­to­rily com­plete du­ties.” NSW Am­bu­lance said it re­mained happy to meet with the union to clar­ify the is­sue.

Paramedic Rob Har­ris says cut­ting cor­ners will pro­duce poorer out­comes for pa­tients. Pic­ture: Tim Hunter

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