NSW to get almost 2,000 more paramedics to improve response times, staff shortages
Published June 5, 2022
ABC News, 5 June 2022
New South Wales is set to get 1,850 extra paramedics and dozens more ambulance stations to help cope with increasing demand to fix a "30-year deficit".
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, Treasurer Matt Kean and Health Minister Brad Hazzard made the announcement today, with the funding — estimated at close to $2 billion over the next four years — to be outlined in this month's state budget.
NSW Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said it was a historic victory for an overworked and fatigued workforce.
"It is just an amazing situation, quite unprecedented, after pushing for years and industrial action by paramedics," he said.
"It will go some way to relieving the pressure on paramedics, not only from a physical working point of view, but also from a psychological point of view.”
Mr Hayes said there would be a 40 per cent increase in the workforce as a result of the changes.
“We are encouraging the state government as much as we can to front-load the implementation," he said.
"So, we would be hoping for 800 or more new paramedics in the first year."
Mr Perrottet said the budget allocation was a "generational investment" as he says demand to work within the health field grows.
"This is fixing up a 30-year issue that we're able to do now. This ensures not just us but our children and their children get the health care they need when they need it.
"We have people coming through today who want to be paramedics and we just don't have the place for them, so today expressions of interest will be sent out for people to join."
The funding, which will total $1.76 billion over four years, will add 2,128 paramedics, ambulance support, nurses and doctors.
Mr Hayes said the influenza season, plus COVID-19 over recent years, had been disastrous for paramedics and the public.
“It has been the perfect storm, affecting staffing and response times," he said.
"This is a good response from the state government to a staffing and workforce level that was really needed.”
Dozens of new ambulance stations are also set to be built across the state.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns has welcomed the announcement, congratulating the Premier for the "good decision" and for his ability to work through the issues with all the parties involved.
However, he also said it was just a first step towards solving problems in the public health system across the state.
"So while the government's made an important announcement about paramedics, [patients] still have to be treated in the emergency department," he said.
"Otherwise, we're just going to have ambulances waiting out the front of emergency departments before they can be redeployed in the community.
"So this goes some way of solving what is a complicated problem. But obviously public health is a huge issue. We expect it to be a big one in the state election in March."
NSW opposition health spokesman Ryan Park said the state has seen its worst response times in over a decade, with major problems in Western Sydney, Wollongong, and Newcastle.
"Space within hospitals is simply not there," he said.
"That is because populations have grown and the state government has failed to keep up."