New England paramedics refuse to record patient billing details, as station conditions feud continues

CONCERNS: Ambulance stations in the Inverell and Tamworth areas, including Ashford, are among the biggest concerns for paramedics. Photo: The Inverell Times
CONCERNS: Ambulance stations in the Inverell and Tamworth areas, including Ashford, are among the biggest concerns for paramedics. Photo: The Inverell Times

NEW England paramedics will not record the billing details of their patients on callouts in the region, effectively giving locals a free ride.

Executives from the Australian Paramedics Association launched the industrial action today as a long-running dispute over station maintenance issues in the region continues.

It follows what the union alleges to be a failure to commit to addressing the maintenance issues at local ambulance stations.

Union representatives have told The Leader​ the course of action was decided on by the region’s paramedics as it would not directly impact the community.

In a statement, NSW Ambulance said it had been advised of the industrial action and “is referring the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission for assistance”.

This morning, APA secretary Steve Pearce threatened the ban on billing information could spread throughout the rest of the state unless NSW Ambulance provided firm commitments to address the condition of the state’s ambulance stations.

“Paramedics have had enough of being ignored and expected to carry out their life-saving duties while working in substandard conditions,” Mr Pearce said.

“Paramedics have been negotiating for some time with NSW Ambulance over the condition of ambulance stations and instead of providing a clear commitment to improve working conditions, they are outlining yet another committee process.

“We are sick of talking. Everyone agrees there is a massive maintenance backlog and some stations are in such poor conditions, it would be cheaper to bulldoze them.”

He said the worst stations in New England were in Armidale, Tamworth city, Ashford and Quirindi.

“NSW Ambulance knows exactly where these stations are because they have conducted a building audit, which they are keeping secret," Mr Pearce said. 

Mr Pearce said Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard should visit ambulance stations and see for themselves what state they were in.