Paramedics to defy health orders they say keep them stuck at hospitals in NSW

  • Published March 20, 2023

9 News, 20 March 2023

Paramedics will defy health department orders that keep them "blocked" in hospitals to highlight the bed shortage in New South Wales.

The Health Services Union says current rules mean paramedics often have to stay with patients who have "relatively minor" ailments such as sunburn because the hospital they are at is too overwhelmed to process a formal handover.

This means they're unable to be on the road responding to potentially life-threatening incidents.

From Tuesday, the union said, paramedics will judge whether a patient (if they are aged 18 to 85) is stable after arriving at a hospital - and if so, the health workers will get back on the road.
HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the paramedic workforce was taking the action to promote public health.

"It's astounding we have to do this, but we have no other option," Hayes said.
"Paramedics are at their wits' end.

"They are forced to hang around emergency departments with patients who have constipation, stubbed toes or sunburn all because there simply isn't enough staff to process a handover.

"We are sacrificing crucial minutes where we could be responding to a potential cardiac arrest."

Hayes said a collapse in hospital staffing was the root of the problem.

There are 12,000 vacancies across the hospital system because people with skills and experience simply can't afford to live in NSW and work in health," he said.

"This is the consequence of a decade of wage suppression."

Hayes said the protest action had been designed "carefully and responsibly".