NSW paramedic warns health system strain makes triple-0 responses a ‘roll of the dice’

  • Published September 20, 2022

News.com.au, 19th September 2022

A NSW paramedic has claimed calling triple-0 is like “rolling the dice” because the state's health system is struggling to cope with demand.

The Shoalhaven paramedic, identified by the pseudonym Gary, told a radio station that hospitals didn’t have space for every patient and some people were forced to spend hours in corridors.

“In the wards themselves, they have patients in overflow beds in the corridors and they will not be unloading any ambulances for the foreseeable future and they will be treating them on our ambulance stretchers,” the paramedic told 2GB.

Asked what he reckons would happen to someone in need of urgent medical attention who calls triple-0, Gary said it would come down to luck.

“It’s rolling the dice at the moment – you might get an ambulance that’s available, or you might wait an hour,” he said.

He also said his colleagues were often made to work overtime and cover shifts that stretched up to 15 hours.

“Our families are suffering because we’re working such long shifts and overtime to cover the shortfall that we’re missing time with our families,” he said.

The Health Services Union, which represents paramedics, said Gary’s experience was all too common.

“It’s why we need a root and branch review of the health system, preferably through a royal commission,” HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes told NCA NewsWire.

“Covid proved the health system is under-resourced and needs greater funding, but we also need to look at how health resources are being spent and where.

“The hospital system is doing the heavy lifting for under-resourced aged and disability care providers, and too many GPs are not bulk billing.”

Mr Hayes added that in his view, “special interests are taking more than their fair share of the health funding pie”.

“We need greater funding, but we also need to have a very close look at how the health dollar is being spent,” he said.

NSW Health was contacted for comment.