More paramedics part of NSW election pitch

·2-min read

More paramedics who can do more things are part of NSW Labor's election pitch as it seeks to wrest power from the Coalition government for the first time in 12 years.

Labor has announced a $150 million commitment for another 500 paramedics in rural and regional areas in its first term if it takes government.

Consultation would determine where paramedics are needed, and they would be upskilled for intensive and extended care roles that would hopefully ease pressure on emergency rooms.

"The NSW system cannot cope with another four years of Band-Aid solutions, it requires serious repair," Opposition Leader Chris Minns said.

Sunday's announcement is only the beginning of the "long-term, structural repairs" his party will take to the March election.

Labor's health spokesman Ryan Park said regional paramedics desperately need a resources injection to fix shortages that are pushing the ambulance network to its limit.

"It's like going to work with one hand tied behind your back."

"A Minns Labor government will begin the task of repairing that," Mr Park said.

The NSW government has invested billions in health infrastructure in recent years.

A further $2.8 billion was pledged in the June budget to continue building and redeveloping hospitals.

Close to $1.8 billion was allocated for NSW Ambulance to spend on new stations and staff, including 1858 new paramedics, over four years.

Whether that many paramedics can actually be recruited by then is unclear, with nurses and paramedics burning out.

Mr Minns has indicated his party's policies will focus more on the workforce than the workplace.

"We need to build up the profession, invest in our human capital, in our nurses and paramedics and frontline workers," Mr Minns said last week.

Unions representing an exhausted cohort of nurses, midwives and paramedics mounted pressure on the government in the lead up to the budget, which also included a $3000 payment for frontline health workers and a lift on the public sector wage rise cap to three per cent per annum.

Staff-patient ratios that nurses have pushed for have so far seen no firm commitment from either the government or Labor to introduce them.

The NSW government has established a taskforce to look at professional recognition and higher pay for paramedics across the state.

Labor says it will seek bipartisan support for an in-principle agreement to the outcomes of that taskforce.

A NSW Labor government would also seek to implement findings from a Victorian trial of highly-trained paramedic practitioners, if it goes ahead.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the $20 million scheme last week, which is similarly a pitch to voters, however he has the benefit of incumbency at an election taking place in November.

Paramedic practitioners would attend more complex callouts, be able to give more medications, and use more advanced equipment than they currently do, under a model inspired by the UK.