Single-crew ambulances will cost lives: MP

Keira MP Ryan Park has slammed a proposal for single-crew ambulances in the Illawarra that could leave patients at risk.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner yesterday defended the plan, saying it would apply only to low-need patients who could sit and walk, and could be transported by a paramedic in a car.

The minister said the NSW Ambulance Service was considering extending a successful scheme already operating in the region and across the state.

But the union representing the region's paramedics vowed to fight "tooth and nail" against the "grossly irresponsible" proposal to alter the standard operating procedures for paramedics.

Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said: "You don't need to be a paramedic to know that ambulances should have at least two people in them when they're headed to a call.

"There is no way of sugar-coating it, this proposal will cost lives," the former paramedic said.

"You can't halve the level of emergency medical support provided by ambulance crews and expect that not to have terrible consequences for public safety.

"There is absolutely no justification for this move. It is simply a case of this government's lazy and irresponsible approach to budget cuts. They are happy to pay for their budget goals with the public's safety."

Mr Park backed paramedics, saying to "leave seriously ill or even patients in life-threatening situations unattended in the back of an ambulance is just dangerous".

"Every ambulance in NSW needs to have two paramedics, one driving and one in the back with the patient," Mr Park said.

"When you make health cuts to the tune of $3 billion, you leave patients in situations that are simply unacceptable.

"Families across the region have every right to feel angered and distressed about what could possibly happen to their child should they be left alone in the back of an ambulance."

Mr Park said ambulance officers were exposed to greater stress and dangers in a single-crew situation.

"Residents expect that when they are in situations that need urgent attention that suitably staffed ambulances will be able to assist them."


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