National News

Patients won’t be billed by NSW ambulances as paramedics strike

New South Wales paramedics are taking industrial action for the next five days as they demand a pay rise and for the government to address staff shortages.

The Australian Paramedic Association made the decision last night for paramedics to strike from last night through to June 1.

The union is calling for a "real" pay rise, 1500 more paramedics to help with staff shortages, a review of the triaging system, and for specialists in metro and regional areas.

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NSW Ambulance said in a statement it had support of the Industrial Relations Commission to "resolve this planned action".

"The safety of patients is our top priority, and NSW Ambulance has operational plans in place to minimise disruption to the community," the statement read.

Paramedics will not be logging billing information meaning patients will not be sent an invoice to pay for the service.

Triple Zero is receiving up to 500 more calls each day than before the pandemic.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said yesterday all public sectors will be considered for pay changes during the upcoming budget.

"We've said as part of the budget we will address public sector wages," he said.

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It comes after NSW Ambulance made a proposal for non-urgent patients to receive alternative transport arrangements to GPs and pharmacies to help with ramping at emergency departments.

Triple zero operators will soon be able to call taxi drivers to redirect non-emergency patients to pharmacies or GPs.

"We'd be thinking of patients for example who have a really minor soft tissue injury or they need their script filled but can't to their pharmacy," Senior Assistant Commissioner Clare Beech said.

"We'd be thinking of patients for example who have a really minor soft tissue injury or they need their script filled but can't go to their pharmacy," Lachlan Rose from Manly Vale Pharmacy said.

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NSW ambulance considers working with taxis to take non-urgent patients to GPs

The system is already in place in Victoria as the state sees the same health crisis and extensive ambulance ramping.

The proposal has not been celebrated by unions who warn this could mean patients are wrongly triaged.

"Undertaking triage over the phone can be fraught with danger and I think that is a possibility that a patient could be mixed up that should be in an ambulance, and instead a taxi," Gerard Hayes from Health Services Union said.

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