The Australian Paramedics Association and the Health Services Union call for increased paramedic numbers

A call for increased paramedic numbers and improved response times across the state has received Highlands support.

The Australian Paramedics Association (APA) NSW recently said NSW was among the worst ambulance response rates in the country.

APA secretary Steve Pearce said more paramedics were needed to address the problem.

“We can do better in NSW and save more lives if we had enough paramedics to meet the ever-increasing demand,” he said said.

“Paramedics are being forced to manage too many patients who have been left waiting for too long and their condition has deteriorated to a point where the situation is life threatening.”

Mr Pearce said at least 500 more paramedics were needed to meet the growing demand.

Health Services Union (HSU) South West Sydney sub-branch president Matt Anderson said he was also trying to get more staff.

“I am currently also fighting for more staff at Picton as this area directly impacts on the Southern Highlands as crews are frequently required to leave the highlands to cover towns in Wollondilly,” he said.

“There are many times each week when all available resources are in use and the people of the Southern Highlands do not have paramedics available to respond to 000 calls.”

But a NSW Ambulance spokesperson said the latest  Bureau of Health Information (BHI) Healthcare Quarterly report for April to June 2017 found response times were above the NSW Ambulance benchmark.

There were 276,354 calls for an ambulance during the quarter, which was up 2.1 per cent compared with the same quarter last year.

The BHI found the median response time in the quarter for Priority 1A cases was 7.4 minutes which was above the benchmark.

The NSW Ambulance spokesperson said they had a response time target of 10 minutes in this category.

With regards to paramedic numbers across the state, the spokesperson said $7.5 million had been allocated in the 2017 state budget for an additional 50 relief paramedics.

“The flu season this winter has been a significant challenge, but patients in NSW have continued to receive timely care,” they said.

“One of the strategies was the rostering of additional paramedic crews to assist with managing demand on the peak days.