AMBULANCES in Bathurst are carrying a pointed message from local paramedics to the NSW Premier.
Words have been chalked on the side of the vehicles as part of a push for a change that local paramedics say will benefit the city's hospital and the city's residents.
NSW Health, though, which was contacted by the Western Advocate for a response, has emphasised how much it values the role of paramedics in the state and has said the "benefits and impacts of how the professional paramedic may be utilised in the broader NSW health system" is in the process of being considered.
Health Services Union (HSU) state delegate and Bathurst paramedic Phillip Livingstone explained the background to the chalk messages.
"A bit over two years ago, just prior to COVID, the Health Services Union (HSU) met with the Premier, Dominic Perrottet, and the Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, and the politicians agreed to a road map to professional recognition for paramedics," he said.
"COVID put a hold on all that.
"But earlier this year, the HSU met with Dominic Perrottet and he agreed to set up a taskforce to look at professional recognition."
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Professional recognition - according to Mr Livingstone and his fellow HSU state delegate and Bathurst paramedic Claire Green - would widen the scope of what paramedics could do.
"The taskforce finished up in October with a lot of recommendations to improve pre-hospital care and reduce the impact on hospitals, allowing paramedics to potentially treat so many more emergencies, high and low acuity, in a pre-hospital environment," Mr Livingstone said.
It's been more than 50 days since the taskforce wound up, he said, but there has yet to be an announcement from the NSW Premier about professional recognition for the state's paramedics.
Mr Livingstone and Ms Green said Deputy Premier and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole had also been approached by the HSU about the matter, but there had still been no progress.
Ms Green said the professional recognition that NSW paramedics are pushing for is already in place elsewhere.
"Paramedics are leaving in droves in NSW because the other states already have paramedical professional recognition," she said.
She said NSW is "actually having more [paramedics] leave than we're getting in the door because they're going to other states".
And Mr Livingstone said the change would allow paramedics in Bathurst and around the state to "keep people out of hospital and treat them where they need to be treated; where it's preferred for them".
They said paramedics need public support on the matter, which is why the messages have been chalked on local ambulances.
The action with the ambulances started on Thursday and might be followed by further industrial action, Mr Livingstone and Ms Green said.
A NSW Health spokesperson told the Western Advocate in a statement that NSW Health "values the essential role our paramedics have in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our communities".
"The Paramedic Workforce Forum was established in July 2022 to review and consider the Health Service Union's submissions regarding the future paramedic workforce and how to utilise the paramedic profession to the benefit of NSW Health and the NSW community," the statement said.
"The forum, which meets regularly, includes representatives from NSW Ambulance, NSW Health, and the Health Services Union. The College of Paramedicine has a standing invite.
"The Forum is considering the options, benefits and impacts of how the professional paramedic may be utilised in the broader NSW health system, as well as the value of any future paramedic workforce model.
"NSW Health is consulting with stakeholders, including representatives of the broader health system, on proposals arising from the Forum.
"Should there be any proposed changes to the Paramedics and Control Centre Officers Award, NSW Health will consult with relevant unions such as the Health Services Union and the Australian Paramedics Association.
"As part of the $1.76 billion boost in the NSW Government's 2022-23 Budget, NSW Ambulance received funding for 2,128 staff, including 1,858 paramedics, 210 ambulance support staff, 52 nurses and eight doctors.
"The NSW Government will also deliver eight new stations at Warilla, Kincumber, Lisarow, Gateshead, Swansea, Cherrybrook, Raby and Narellan, with a further 22 stations to be announced over the next four years which is in addition to the more than 45 new and upgraded facilities delivered since 2011."
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