Paramedics target bed block with 'return to road' pledge
FRUSTRATED paramedics in New South Wales are launching their ‘return to the road’ pledge, bucking health department orders to stay in clogged hospitals with non-urgent patients, and instead vowing get back on the road to deal with life-threatening emergencies.
Under current health department policies, paramedics can get stuck in bed blocked hospitals for hours on end accompanying patients suffering relatively minor conditions such as sunburn because the hospital is too overwhelmed to process a formal handover.
This bed block prevents the paramedic attending to fresh, life threatening emergencies, according to the Health Services Union (HSU).
HSU NSW Secretary, Gerard Hayes said from early Tuesday, paramedics will take matters into their own hands. If they judge the condition of a patient aged 18-85 to be stable, they will return to the road.
Mr 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,” Mr 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.
“At the heart of this problem is the collapse in hospital staffing. 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.
"We have tried every which way to propose reform options that would reduce bed block. Sadly we have hit a brick wall.
“HSU paramedics have designed this action carefully and responsibly so that it enhances patient wellbeing."
The action begins from the first shift on Tuesday morning in NSW.