NSW Ambulance Emergency Medical (000) Call Takers and their Team Leaders have voted to implement work bans in all NSW Ambulance Control rooms from noon on Monday 4 March.

The United Services Union (USU) has expressed its deep concern over the crisis gripping NSW Ambulance control rooms. The Union says attrition, substandard remuneration, unfair treatment and a lack of recognition for their vital contributions have forced its members to take action. This is a result of the false promises and hollow assurances from Health Ministry and the Health Minister Ryan Park to deliver on a reclassification and allowances to properly compensate its members for the vital and incredibly difficult role they do.

In a recent conversation with an Associate Director Workplace Relations at NSW Health the Union learned of the NSW Government’s decision to retrospectively apply a new bargaining policy to the Union’s outstanding claims from the last round of award negotiations. The USU says this is a betrayal of its members who have been working cooperatively with the NSW Government since the 2023 State election to achieve reclassification for Emergency Medical Call Takers that recognises the highly skilled, technical and at times clinical functions of their role.

During this time the Union has met with the Health Minister and numerous times with the Ministry of Health. At every juncture they have received assurances that the reforms sought to their award are a priority for the Minister and his department. USU members have told their union they now feel betrayed. Not only have the promises and assurances evaporated, a new policy has been implemented requiring cost saving and productivity gains to be proven to gain a fair wage increase or any other monetary claim.

USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly said: “How can you ask a group who are recognised across the Ambulance service as being its hardest working and lowest paid members, a group who are already over worked and over stretched to demonstrate productivity gains and cost savings to be able to gain even a modest pay increase?”

“This new policy fails to accommodate Emergency Workers who are already working beyond capacity. This is evidenced by the daily implantation by senior management of surge and emergency rules that force Emergency Medical Call Takers to circumvent international standards of call taking, management rules that cut corners and lowers the quality of patient care across NSW.”

Emergency Medical Call Takers are classified and remunerated as clerical and administrative assistants. Their Team Leaders who can be responsible for the support and supervision for up to 20 plus call takers at any one time are paid between 50 cents and $2 per dollars and hour more than those they are supervising and $13 less than other uniformed staff working in the same room with a similar function.

Highly skilled Emergency Medical Call Takers, critical for life-saving ambulance operations, are earning less than their counterparts in other states and similar NSW roles, raising serious questions about the value placed on their indispensable contributions.

Adding to the insult, these Emergency Medical Call Takers are also tasked with training control centre dispatch trainees who, despite lacking qualifications or experience, receive higher pay as an unqualified trainee than seasoned Emergency Medical Call Takers with decades of experience.

The delayed reform is contributing to an alarming attrition rate, with members leaving the service in droves citing poor remuneration, unfair policy and a lack of recognition. The attrition crisis within NSW Ambulance control rooms has reached alarming levels, surpassing the service’s ability to replace departing personnel.

Recent influxes of new classes touted by the Minister and on the NSWA website fail to provide meaningful solutions, serving as mere smoke and mirrors to the current crisis.

The USU calls for the Minister and his Ministry to honour their promises and assurances and deliver immediately on the promised reforms to address the crisis within NSW Ambulance control rooms.

At a meeting on 1st March to discuss actions to support the Unions, USU members voted to endorse a set of work bans, to support the campaign for reclassification and other reforms. USU members have placed workbans on reskilling or upskilling including training on CAD upgrades and training contained in shift and operational alerts. Bans have also been placed on the wearing of uniforms.

Team Leaders work bans include bans on ordering of uniforms, conducting PDP’s and managing of sick leave until they are properly recognised and proved a classification in the award.

These bans will not affect patient safety and all USU members will continue to provide the public with the same level of care they have currently.

The crisis within NSW Ambulance control rooms demands immediate attention to stop continuous cycle of hiring and resignations and action without further delay to reforms that safeguard and recognise the value and well-being of the dedicated members who play a crucial role in the frontlines of healthcare.

Media Contact Narelle Rich 0419128497