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19 June, 2022

Paramedics call for transport changes

The NSW Paramedics Association is pushing for a rethink in non-urgent patient transport, in response to the rural health inquiries recommendations.

By Emily Middleton

“We are quite happy with all the recommendations that the health inquiry made,” said local vice president of the association Scott Beaton.

“But as a union, what we'd like is for the government to act on those recommendations as soon as possible and not wait until November to give their reply to how they're going to actually fix the issues of regional and rural health.”

One of the main concerns for the union is the constant traveling for non-urgent cases.

“So transporting patients from other hospitals, whether it be Gilgandra, or Gulargambone, or Coonamble down to Dubbo, in the middle of the night, when those people could probably have patient transport taking them. However patient transport doesn't operate 24 hours,” said Mr Beaton.

A lot of these transfers don’t need an emergency ambulance, according to the union, and using that vehicle is inhibiting actual emergency cases.

“As soon as we go out to transfer to Dubbo, we are at least two hours away from the town, leaving no ambulance available. Because here, or in Coonamble, or wherever it is, there's only one car, one crew available at any one time. It makes it very hard. So if someone does have an emergency, they've got to wait for another ambulance to come from another town. And that then leaves the community uncovered for too long,” said Mr Beaton.

“That’s not to mention there's obviously also the need for more intensive care paramedics and extended care paramedics in regional and rural areas.”

As well as increased patient transport availability, the union wants to see more patient transport officers, and putting on more nurses to go into vehicles.

“Even comparing the use of patient transport in metropolitan areas, they have registered paramedics who work on the patient transport vehicles, in the nonemergency setting, to do the non-urgent transfers around different between the different hospitals.

“Why can't we put a similar system out here? These private contractors work in metro, but no private contractors work in regional NSW at this stage,” said Mr Beaton.

He also expressed that it is great to have 1800 more paramedics coming over the next four years, and believes that while it will certainly assist, there is still a lot more to happen to fix the crisis.

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