Editorial: NSW Ambulance and Australian Paramedics Association in stoush over working with children checks

IT IS a stand-off over working rights that could see some of our paramedics stood down.

From April 1, if New England paramedics don’t pay for their compulsory working with children checks, they might be forced off the road.

The dispute first reared its head in August last year, and now almost eight months later, both the paramedics and Ambulance NSW bosses are starting to get worried as the deadline draws near.

The Australian Paramedics Association claims paramedics are being singled out as an emergency service to pay for these checks.

According to delegates, their colleagues in NSW Fire and Rescue were not required to purchase theirs.

While we might be talking about $80 for a renewal, paramedics have labelled the move a “cash grab” and have claimed they’re being harassed by their bosses to cough up the cash.

That move led to four days of industrial action from union members, who stopped taking down the billing details of patients and effectively giving them a free ride to hospital.

The move was expected to have a significant impact on state-wide revenue with health officials calling an eleventh-hour meeting with union heads next week to sort out the problem.

It is not the first time the union and NSW Ambulance have bumped heads either, with talks still under way on routine maintenance scheduled for ambulance stations across the New England region.

So where to from here?

We can only hope the issue is resolved swiftly and quickly in a united approach by both parties.

Child safety is paramount and Ambulance NSW ultimately has a responsibility to employ paramedics who pass the relevant checks in the best interests of the communities in which they serve. While there is no question of how important these checks. While they are compulsory, we need to look at the centre of this ugly stoush.

This is a dispute over $80 and if this $80 is the difference between having ambulances out on the road and parked in the station, then someone has to cough up the cash and soon.

The only question is, who does the responsibility fall on? The agency responsible for providing a safe service or the paramedics who want to keep their jobs?

This story Is safety more important than cutting costs? first appeared on The Inverell Times.