New paramedics to join the ambulance ranks
THE State Government has announced a $1 billion investment in the NSW Ambulance Service, announcing today it will hire hundreds of paramedics and call-centre staff over the next four years.
New paramedics will be trained following the an "unprecedented" boost of 700 more officers over four years.
Over the next 12 months 200 extra paramedics will be trained across NSW.
Six of those paramedics are set to join the ambulance ranks on the Mid North Coast.
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan called the boost exceptional.
"This enhancement is going to deliver more paramedics than currently work in all of Tasmania and the ACT combined," he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
"This is unprecedented."
NSW currently has about 3200 full-time paramedics, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
"We're not waiting until the community needs more paramedics, we're delivering them ahead of time," she said.
However, the Australian Paramedics Association said it had been campaigning since 2015 for 500 extra paramedics and the need had become "critical."
Secretary Steve Pearce welcomed the commitment but said the association also told the government 1000 paramedics were needed over three years to make a difference to response times.
"Once these new paramedics are on the ground, it will make a huge difference to spreading the workload and helping paramedics to perform the vital work they do," he said in a statement.
Mr Berejiklian said discussions had been going on for a decade and with the state being in a strong financial position, and with training systems set up, now was the time to make investments.
Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes said the state "absolutely" had the ability to train 200 staff immediately.
"It's above politics, this is people's lives being saved," he told reporters, adding there would be no trouble filling the positions.
"This opens a door for a lot of people who accrue HECS debt, who have a passion, and now there's a door open for them."
Health Minister Brad Hazzard agreed, saying paramedic was one of the most trusted professions in the country.
"We're looking forward to working with the universities to make sure we have the numbers," he said.
Labor's health spokesman Walt Secord said paramedics endured "enormous pressure" and highlighted unfinished business such as safety for single-officer responses, especially in regional areas.
Mr Morgan said the boost would make paramedics safer by making sure there was "immediate backup" for any workplace violence.