Threatened industrial action by New England’s paramedics was postponed after NSW Ambulance agreed on Monday to discuss poor station conditions in around 13 stations in New England. These include Ashford, Inverell, Glen Innes, Tamworth, Narrabri, Moree, Gunnedah and many others.
The move comes after Chief Executive NSW Ambulance, Dominic Morgan, agreed to release a building report summary on conditions at New England ambulance stations. Senior management representatives consented to hold discussions with the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) this week.
APA member Dan McPhee said the APA would hold meetings in good faith but remained “skeptical” as the authority had only agreed to the meeting after pressure from the union and media coverage in the Inverell Times.
Scenes of neglect
Mr McPhee said the region has been identified as “the most neglected zone” in the state.
“The station in Inverell has cracks you can almost put your hands through,” said Mr McPhee.
In Ashford, a station built for one ambulance officer is reportedly being used by five full-time staff. Mr McPhee said reliving officers, most of whom came from Inverell and Moree stations, had found temporary accommodation at a nearby nursing home.
But, when that was unavailable last week, the officer had to sleep in the staff lounge-dining area. This cut off access to the kitchen and forced other staff to spend shifts in an office the size of a “storage cupboard” or in the adjoining garage.
Another APA member, Scott Clarke, described the situation at Ashford as being “no different to regional MPs rolling out their swags on the floor of the premier’s office and lining up their cutlery and toothbrush on her desk.”
He also said Ashford’s paramedics had had to supply most of the furniture themselves.
According to Mr McPhee requests to relocate into a large unoccupied NSW Ambulance residence next door to the station had been unsuccessful.
The APA began threatening industrial action last week after repeated attempts to have NSW Ambulance address the issues stalled once again when the authority reportedly asked paramedics to conduct an audit of building problems at their own stations.
The APA described the move as “ludicrous” given that the authority had already conducted a professional audit of station conditions earlier this year.