Christopher Knaus July 04, 2012
Overcrowding has become so bad at ACT ambulance stations that paramedics are being forced to take breaks in the back of ambulances, the Transport Workers Union says.
The union has today launched a stinging attack on the ACT Ambulance Service over what they say has been 14 months of inaction on the chronic overcrowding of stations in Canberra.
TWU official Ben Sweaney said the significant boosts to ambulance officer numbers, delivered in last year's budget, had compounded the problem.
Mr Sweaney said officers were regularly forced to take breaks in the back of ambulances, and eat meals standing up.
"Officers are frustrated that TWU raised some 14 months ago the potential for overcrowding at stations due to new resources coming online," he said.
"While the fat cats of the ACT Ambulance Service are at home tucked up in bed, those at the coal face are running from job to job, and when they are lucky enough to get a break for a meal they have to stand up to enjoy it."
The TWU say they made approaches to the ambulance service over 12 months ago, suggesting a number of alternative accommodation arrangements to help relieve the crowding of ambulance stations.
One of those suggestions was to place demountable buildings at Dickson and Belconnen stations.
A stand alone station for patient transport crews was also suggested, Mr Sweaney said.
Mr Sweaney said the measures were designed to temporarily address the problem until stations were moved and upgraded as part of the ACT Government's longer term station relocation and upgrade strategy.
"What really frustrates our membership is that we provided several interim suggestions 14 months ago, yet ACTAS, through inaction and a lack of leadership, did nothing about those concerns," he said.
He said the TWU welcomed the new resources injected into the service, but said nothing has been done to make room for the new recruits.
"Members are doing the very best they can in difficult circumstances," he said.
"What they simply need are the facilities, now before station relocation upgrade program, so they continue to do the work for an ever increasing demand for ambulance resources."
Fifteen new frontline ambulance staff and two new intensive-care ambulances were announced in the latest ACT budget.