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Posted 3 Jun '20

NSWA places Paramedics and trainees at risk

The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) (APA (NSW)) are appalled that NSW Ambulance (NSWA) have removed health screening of the casual trainee Paramedics which places not only them but patients and supervising Paramedics at risk. 

Ordinarily, Paramedics go through extensive health screenings prior to being on road, including cognitive, musculoskeletal and psychological. These tests are covered by a health standard that is extends over 200 pages. However, NSWA have decided that the casual Paramedic trainees will only be required to read a single page outlining demands of the role and sign an online health self-assessment consisting of only three questions. 

APA (NSW) is disappointed that chronic staffing shortages have induced a rushed process that leaves room for an increased risk of serious injury, both physical and psychological. After more than two weeks raising these concerns, NSWA are progressing with this plan without providing any documentation regarding why these staff don’t require health screening that NSWA deems mandatory for the rest of its on-road staff.

“Time and time again, NSWA have failed to provide us with any clear plans for how the casual Paramedic trainee program will be implemented in a safe way,” said APA (NSW) President Chris Kastelan.

The decision to hire casual staff emphasises the greater issue of chronic understaffing and the ongoing casualisation of the workforce. With a workforce so under-resourced, there is a risk that casual staff will be relied upon to bolster the workforce for all future crises rather than having an emergency service staffed and fully equipped to meet the needs of our communities. 

 “It is clear NSWA has been forced into cutting corners when it comes to staffing and service delivery preparedness”.

“If NSWA believes that health screening is required to ensure safety of Paramedics and patients then they should pay for these checks to be completed for temporary staff,” said APA (NSW) President Chris Kastelan.

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