Queensland Ambulance Service 2017
Queensland Ambulance Service 2017

‘Lives at risk’ from ambos shortage

INSUFFICIENT paramedic numbers have ambulance services straining at the seams which is potentially putting lives at risk, its union claims.

United Voice Australia is calling on the state government to deliver an extra 250 paramedics across the state in next week's budget to maintain on-road ambulance services to cover increased demand for emergency medical services.

United Voice Townsville ambulance delegate Jon Mawdsley said paramedics were seeing a sharp increase in workload in the region.

He said Townsville had been identified as an area currently underresourced and was hopeful of more boots on the ground.

"The call outs are definitely increasing, we really haven't seen a meaningful increase in staff over the last few years," he said.

"We are certainly working hard with the resources that we have, but those resources become stretched more thinly especially in times of peak demand."

Mr Mawdsley claimed paramedics were experiencing more shift extensions, missed breaks, incomplete paperwork and were even being pulled from mandatory training.

"The inadequate number of paramedics is creating a lot of workplace pressure and fatigue," he said.

"And this has only been compounded by the winter flu season arriving early this year, leaving paramedic services feeling significantly under-resourced."

Asked whether lives were at risk, he said: "Potentially yes, and if we don't see the staff enhancement than a tragedy is waiting to happen."

But speaking in Cairns yesterday, Health Minister Steven Miles said the state government had delivered 533 ambulance staff since 2015.

"They are the first responders to so many emergencies in our communities, and the budget next week will outline our plans to continue to invest in more paramedics, more ambulance stations, more vehicles, more stretchers," he said.

"I'll outline exactly how many on Tuesday, when the Budget is released.

"But the assurance I can give is that we will continue to invest in more paramedics as we have."

In response to union claims, Mr Miles said paramedics did a fantastic job in the community.

"I know that the number of calls that they're responding to, the triple-0 calls, keep growing at a rate greater than population growth," he said

"That's why it's important that we keep investing in more paramedics."