12 May 2022

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (16:56): Too many paramedics are working understaffed and fatigued. It is not unusual for most paramedics to work 13-plus hours without a break. Morale amongst paramedics is at an all-time low, and there is mass attrition. Despite many of them feeling that they have the best job in the world, they have the worst employer. Our paramedics need more resources, particularly an enhancement of crewing numbers. I am told by many paramedics each week that they need immediate change to save the ambulance health service, which is in crisis.

Mr Alister Henskens (Ku-ring-gai): Point of order: The clear convention of this Parliament is that private members' statements are used to deal with matters of local significance to a member's electorate. The member has spoken for one minute and has not mentioned her electorate. It is important that the conventions of this House—

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr David Layzell): The Clerk will stop the clock.

Mr Alister Henskens: There are many important issues in the community, but the purpose of private members' statements is to deal with local issues and matters of significance. That has always been the convention. The member should be observing that convention.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr David Layzell): The member for Blue Mountains has the call.

Ms TRISH DOYLE: I acknowledge the interjection from the member for Ku-ring-gai. All of this information comes on behalf of the paramedics of the Blue Mountains, so I am appalled by that interjection. Blue Mountains paramedics tell me that we need immediate change to save the ambulance health service, which is in crisis. I acknowledge Catherine Treloar, who is the organiser at the Australian Paramedics Association, and the many local paramedics in the Blue Mountains who have met with me recently. I am told by members of the We Deserve Better campaign that we are in an emergency health care crisis and that the pandemic has demonstrated how far into that crisis we are. Inadequate resourcing has led to forced overtime for years, and Blue Mountains paramedics are working up to 21 hours with no breaks and worsening response times. This has never been more clear than now.

Living regionally, as many of the paramedics in the Blue Mountains do, should not mean settling for a lower standard of health care. We must acknowledge the workforce that has to respond for that health care. Working regionally should not mean settling for inadequate resourcing or lower workplace standards. This January a formal submission was made to the parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote New South Wales. That submission summarised six major recommendations for improving health care in regional communities. On behalf of Blue Mountains paramedics, I put those recommendations on the record. They need resourcing to match demand, specialist paramedic resources, assurance that paramedics are available for emergency work and appropriately resourced local hospitals. I now give the Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital a plug. They also need a review looking at which local hospitals would benefit the most from a range of diagnostic tools and technicians who can utilise those tools, and they need dedicated mental health facilities.

There needs to be a review of the triaging and referral services, and reliable communication networks must be built. I encourage all members in this place, wherever their electorates are, to read the submission by the Australian Paramedics Association. Patients are dying, and paramedics will die too if this is not fixed. I finish with some issues that were shared with me by a well-respected paramedic from the Blue Mountains, who tells me that he is broken. He has taken note of shifts allocated to him between September last year and April this year. He recorded 511 cases being allocated to him. In the Springwood area, he was allocated 190 cases, and in the Katoomba area, he was allocated 73 cases. That leaves 248 cases outside of the Blue Mountains that were allocated to him. He said that his biggest concern is that ambulances from the Blue Mountains are being used to cover other areas, so there is no cover for the residents in our area. He wanted me to let all of my colleagues in Parliament know that resources are being moved away from the Blue Mountains. It is absolutely heartbreaking. We are seeing unnecessary deaths because of these depleted resources. This Government needs to do better.