Paramedics call for increased numbers at Macquarie Fields

Greater numbers needed: Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong (at centre) with, from left, Health Service Union members Tess Oxley, Stuart Peterson, Greg Morley and Stuart Peterson.
Greater numbers needed: Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong (at centre) with, from left, Health Service Union members Tess Oxley, Stuart Peterson, Greg Morley and Stuart Peterson.

If more paramedics are not allocated to Macquarie Fields Ambulance Station as soon as possible, lives will be at risk.

That’s the message from the Health Services Union.

Despite the rapidly growing population in the north of Campbelltown and the south of Liverpool – the region which paramedics at Macquarie Fields cover – there has been no increase to staff numbers at the ambulance station.

Tess Oxley, assistant secretary of the south west Sydney Health Services Union sub-branch, said it was a struggle to even maintain numbers at Macquarie Fields, let alone get an increase.

NSW Ambulance is set to roll out 700 new paramedics across the state and Ms Oxley wants to see some of them allocated to Macquarie Fields Ambulance Station.

“We need this to be recognised as a priority,” she said.

“We need certainty that our numbers will be maintained at the very least and increased over time.”

Ms Oxley said staff were often pulled away from their shifts to serve ‘super stations’ at Liverpool and Bankstown.

This means response times become slower for patients in the Macquarie Fields catchment.

“Our message is that every minute counts, especially for cardiac chest events and and strokes,” she said.

“The longer it takes for an ambulance to reach someone the riskier it is.

“[We need some guarantees] for both the health and welfare of the residents and for the wellbeing of paramedics working in the area who are finding themselves increasingly overwhelmed by the difficulties of doing their job... under heavy workload pressures.”

An Ambulance NSW spokesman said additional paramedics would be coming to the south-west area, but could not specify numbers for Macquarie Fields.

“According to preliminary allocations, the south west Sydney region, which incorporates Macquarie Fields, will benefit with 24 additional paramedics within the next year,” he said.

“This will be subject of consultation with the unions for the roll out of the first year of the 200 paramedics.”

Ms Oxley was not impressed with the statement and said she wanted more clarity on where the new paramedics would be stationed and when the consultation would occur.

Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong said it was “completely unacceptable” and “appalling” that there had been no staffing increase at the local station.

“Saving lives is not negotiable,” he said.

“With our community continuing to grow, the Macquarie Fields ambulance station requires more staff and resources, not less. Resources are so stretched that paramedics are being called on to plug other holes in the system throughout the Sydney network.”

Mr Chanthivong wrote to state health minister Brad Hazzard to express his concerns.