In a shocking revelation, the NSW Ambulance service, despite its recent intake Emergency Medical Call Takers, finds itself embroiled in a crisis within its control rooms. The celebratory induction of new graduates is overshadowed by persistent concerns about substandard remuneration and insufficient recognition for the vital role played by control room staff.

Attrition Crisis Grips NSW Ambulance Control Rooms

USU members have told their Union the attrition rate within NSW Ambulance control rooms has surged to alarming levels, far outstripping the service’s capacity to replace departing personnel. The United Service Union has sounded the alarm, drawing attention to a glaring pay disparity. Highly skilled Emergency Medical Call Takers, armed with technical and clinical expertise critical for life-saving operations, are reportedly earning less than their counterparts in payroll positions. This inequity raises serious questions about the value placed on their indispensable contributions.

Reclassification Promises Fall Flat

Adding to the complexity, promises to revise the public sector pay policy for the reclassification of call takers have been set aside. Instead, a new policy with similar restrictive measures has been implemented, leaving many skeptical about the effectiveness of recent announcements. The delayed reclassification of Emergency Medical Call Takers is causing members to leave at an alarming rate and many in the first two years of service. Departing members are telling the union that the primary reason for members leaving the service is remuneration. This leading to a continuous cycle hiring that fails to even maintain the numbers of Emergency Medical Call Takers and perpetuating the challenges faced by NSW Ambulance Control rooms. Unless a significant change to the classification of Emergency Medical Call Takers in NSW is immediately forthcoming no amount of recruitment or annual percentage increases that do not even meet increasing cost of living will fix this crisis in emergency care.

Union Voices Concerns Over Inadequate Solutions

Union representatives argue that the developments gloated about in an article on 13 Dec 2023 on the NSWA website fail to provide meaningful solutions and instead serve as mere smoke and mirrors. Notably, Emergency Medical Call Takers find themselves in a peculiar situation where they are denied a uniform allowance that their uniformed colleagues receive. Adding to the insult, these call takers are also tasked with training other service trainees who, despite lacking qualifications or experience, receive higher pay than seasoned Emergency Medical Call Takers with decades of experience.

Calls for Urgent Reforms Echo Amidst Struggle

The ongoing issues within the control rooms underscore the urgency for comprehensive reforms. A fair compensation structure, due recognition, and a conducive working environment are essential to retaining skilled staff and ensuring the effective functioning of control rooms. The crisis within NSW Ambulance control rooms demands immediate attention and remedial action to safeguard the well-being of dedicated staff who play a crucial role in the frontlines of healthcare.

Please contact your Organisers should you have any questions,  for Southern/Sydney Control Mick Jones on 0450 020 589 and for Northern/Western Control Craig Diebert on 0409 076 633, Craig commences Monday 4 March..