Member for Wollongong Noreen Hay has joined the debate over claims Illawarra paramedics are understaffed, calling on the state government to "get its act together".
Yesterday the Illawarra Mercury reported on claims made by the Emergency Medical Service Protection Association (EMSPA) that at least 30 new paramedics and three additional ambulances were needed in the region.
"The disrespect being shown to these wonderful hard working and dedicated emergency services personnel is completely unacceptable," Ms Hay said.
"I call on the government to provide the additional resources before we lose some of these paramedics to stress and duress."
But the state government has again rejected the claims, pointing to an annual 5.5 per cent NSW Ambulance budget increase.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the government had increased the budget to a record $726 million.
"The NSW Ambulance budget has increased this year, like all years since the election," she said.
"Noreen Hay is out of touch - I'm advised the Illawarra has more paramedics rostered than was negotiated with the union to maintain rosters.
"The NSW government backs our state's paramedics, who deliver exceptional care to patients in what can be challenging situations."
However, the union responsible for negotiating the current roster numbers was the Health Services Union, not EMSPA.
Illawarra paramedics officially won the right to be represented by their own union in a NSW Industrial Commission ruling in May this year, 3½ years after EMSPA began representing paramedics within the HSU.
A NSW Ambulance spokesman said the identified 12 paramedics who put the Illawarra's workforce into excess were a combination of permanent part-time, casual and temporary paramedics.
"All NSW Ambulance trainees and interns are part of the establishment figures and are fully funded," the spokesman said.
Early this year, Illawarra paramedics took industrial action over a government plan to give firefighters the right to administer "first response" first aid to patients.
NSW Ambulance failed to rule out the plan, and said a "project group" had been formed to "resolve industrial, training and management issues" affecting the program's implementation.
"The first priority of NSW Ambulance is to save lives. This program will get initial first aid to patients quicker prior to the arrival of paramedics," the spokesman said.
But NSW Fire Brigade Employees' Union president Darin Sullivan said the situation wasn't as easy as simply giving a directive for firefighters to perform on-scene first aid.
"You don't just start sending fire officers to cardiac arrests.
"There have got to be clear guidelines, training ... [and] memorandums of understanding between services."
He said the union supported more staff for paramedics in the first instance, and any additional duties fire officers were required to perform should earn a pay rise.
"What's clear to us as firefighters is that the government intends to force some of ambulance duties on to firefighters," Mr Sullivan said.
The NSW Fire Brigade Employees' Union has set a pay rise figure of 12 per cent before members "even look at a model".