NSW Premier Chris Minns, Health Minister Ryan Park says paramedic action will “cripple triple-0”

  • Published December 1, 2023
  • Industries

News.com.au, 1 December 2023

More than 2000 paramedics have pledged to boycott renewing their registration, prompting a dire warning about emergency services from January 1.

The NSW government has issued a dire warning as more than 2000 paramedics have pledged to not renew their registration, leaving them unable to perform several medical procedures from January 1.
Tense and protracted wage negotiations between the Health Services Union (HSU) failed to reach an agreement on Friday, less than a month before the December 31 deadline.

The HSU is asking for a 20 per cent pay rise for paramedics to be put on pay parity with their Queensland counterparts, however the government says their demands have ballooned to between 25 to 45 per cent.

It’s understood the HSU pay demand includes the 20 per cent, plus the existing base public sector increase, which the government has placed at 4 per cent, plus a 0.5 per cent boost to super contributions.

Health Minister Ryan Park said talks would continue next week and promised paramedics would get an increase in pay, however he warned planned industrial action would “cripple triple-0 services”.

This comes as the government’s proposal to offer private arbitration was declined by delegates in a meeting with Mr Park and Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis on Friday.

“This industrial action that is threatened to take place on New Year’s Eve would cripple triple-0 and no paramedic, no union or no government would be able to explain that to the people of NSW,” he said.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said current pay demands were beyond what the government could offer.

He said he believed the government had approached “all industrial bargaining in good faith,” but feared the escalation on January 1 could put people’s lives at risk.

“We need to make sure that this industrial action doesn’t spill into having unintended consequences where people who are very sick or could potentially die can’t have access to a paramedic or an ambulance to get there,” he said.

“Stepping up this form of industrial action will mean triple-0 can’t operate and I’ve got major fears for the people in NSW if that went ahead.”

Under national law, paramedics are required to renew their registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) by November 30, and will be unable to work past December 31 once the grace period lapses. It will also prevent paramedics from being paid by NSW Health.

NCA NewsWire understands NSW Health will write to HSU members confirming they will not be able to be rostered on shifts from January 1 onwards and will not be paid “unless and until” they renew their registration.

“The industrial campaign presents a genuine risk to health and safety across the state. As health professionals, paramedics demonstrate day in, day out, their commitment to the health and safety of the community,” the letter reads.

However, the HSU have said members will “continue to turn up to work ready for duty only to be turned away by the Minns government on the basis that they want to continue paying NSW the lowest rates in Australia”.

HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the pay increase was needed to ensure paramedics weren’t leaving NSW for other states in order to get better pay.

“If we don’t get a pay rise that brings us in line with Queensland this boycott will be the least of the government’s problem … We are trying desperately to prevent the collapse of the paramedic workforce in NSW,” he said.

“If he kept his promise to recognise the lifesaving skills and responsibilities of paramedics with professional pay we could avoid this.”

In a dig over the NSW’s $16m bid to host three UFC fights in Sydney, Mr Hayes called on the Premier to prioritise government spending.

“It’s pretty hard to fathom the argument that there’s no money for people who resuscitate kids on the side of the road and rush them to hospital,” he said.

“The government can find $16m to host cage fights, but apparently there’s no money to stop paramedics leaving for Queensland.”

Opposition health spokesman Matt Kean said the government had broken its promise to paramedics.

“We are seeing all talk and no action from this government – a government that was voted in on the premise of delivering its promises, and a government that has failed to do so.”