The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES KITTO

THE State Govern­ment has backed its de­ci­sion to pro­vide am­bu­lance care in Bushy Park and has slammed the health union for mock­ing its al­lo­ca­tion of increased paramedic num­bers.

The Hodg­man Govern­ment last week an­nounced it is em­ploy­ing 42 new paramedics in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas of Tas­ma­nia in the next five and a half years.

Health Min­is­ter Michael Fer­gu­son said the ex­tra paramedics would re­duce fa­tigue, in­crease am­bu­lance re­spon­sive­ness and re­duce over­time costs.

“We have al­lo­cated $14.9 mil­lion for the pro­gres­sive re­cruit­ment of the 42 paramedics, with three branch sta­tion of­fi­cer team lead­ers in the South, North and North-West, as well as three ex­tra paramedics at the Wyn­yard Am­bu­lance Sta­tion to be em­ployed this fi­nan­cial year,” he said.

The roll­out will in­clude an am­bu­lance based at Bushy Park.

“Next year, we will em­ploy an ex­tra three paramedics in Dodges Ferry, three in Bicheno, three in Delo­raine and three in St He­lens. Over the re­main­ing four years, a fur­ther 24 paramedics will be re­cruited to re­gional ar­eas across the state,” Mr Fer­gu­son said.

He said the de­liv­ery of a new paramedic to Bushy Park would help al­le­vi­ate paramedic pres­sure in the Der­went Val­ley.

“There is cur­rently no paramedic be­tween New Nor­folk and Queen­stown – now there will be,” he said.

“This will act as a back-up for New Nor­folk and ease pres­sure and work­load. It will also re­duce re­sponse times in the area, in­clud­ing May­dena, Mt Field Na­tional Park and El­len­dale.”

In a Face­book post last week, the Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Union poured scorn on the govern­ment’s al­lo­ca­tion to Bushy Park.

The post pointed out that a Bushy Park am­bu­lance and crew would cover 232 peo­ple, while cur­rently one am­bu­lance in Ho­bart equates to cover­ing 22,000 peo­ple.

“It is shock­ing and dis­ap­point­ing that HACSU is at­tack­ing the Govern­ment’s plan to re­cruit 42 ru­ral and re­gional paramedics across the state,” Mr Fer­gu­son said.

“For the union to sug­gest Bushy Park doesn’t de­serve a paramedic is a slap in the face to the peo­ple who live, not just in Bushy Park, but in the sur­round­ing ar­eas.”

HACSU state sec­re­tary Tim Ja­cob­son said the em­ploy­ment of ad­di­tional staff was a good ini­tia­tive.

“But th­ese re­sources weren’t brought in to deal with the ramp­ing case load is­sues at the Royal Ho­bart Hos­pi­tal. They were brought in to deal with paramedic fa­tigue to take pres­sure off them, be­cause of the high case load,” he said.

“It’s more likely that the Bushy Park crew will spend more time in outer Ho­bart ar­eas than Bushy Park.”

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