United Voice has met with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and QAS Commissioner Russell Bowles to pursue a number of important issues on behalf of members. Branch Secretary Gary Bullock was joined by officers Kroy Day and Darren Brown.
While the meeting was productive, the best test of the government’s commitments will come when it’s time for practical implementation outside an election period. United Voice will remain vigilant on behalf of members with our new Code One campaign.
However, the following important issues were raised and the following commitments given by the Minister:
No 8 hour shifts
A senior manager told staff that QAS would cut shifts to eight hours if they continue to fill out SHE reports. The Minister and Commissioner said they had no intention of reducing shifts. The Commissioner added that he was not opposed to any officer filling out a SHE report on any issue they felt required action.
No forced unpaid overtime
The delegation raised concerns about a senior manager instructing staff to sign out their drugs before they started their shift, resulting in unpaid, forced overtime. The Minister and Commissioner categorically stated there was no intention to enforce this policy and was not a direction they intended to take QAS.
Further consultation on equipment and vehicles
Concerns were raised about the level of consultation about equipment and vehicles, as members feel they don’t have as much input as they did in the past. Minister Springborg said ambulance officers need to have a say on such matters and encouraged anyone who feels that further consultation is needed, to speak up.
Continued focus on ramping
The Minister acknowledged that ramping is still an issue and has agreed to continue working with ambulance officers to alleviate the problem. As an example, we told the Minister there are a number of Emergency Department beds in Prince Charles Hospital which are not being used while ambulances are ramped outside. The Commissioner agreed to look into the issue and the Minister provided further confirmation United Voice will continue to be part of the MEDAI review.
IT upgrade to assist with rest pause provision
Once again, QAS and the Minister were questioned about plans to ensure ambulance officers receive proper rest breaks. The Commissioner said they are currently investigating IT infrastructure changes and have employed a private company to assist in the provision of breaks. The Minister reiterated the importance of ensuring ambulance officers accessed breaks and said additional staff, provided for in the budget would help.
Join the campaign
It’s clear that Minister Springborg has started to listen and act on the concerns of ambulance officers. However, there is still a long way to go.
Ambulance officers and United Voice must remain vigilant and press all politicians to commit to action that will revive our profession and patient care. Verbal commitments before an election are easy.
Make sure you join our new campaign Code One on Facebook and be prepared to put even more pressure on this government to bring about the change needed in QAS.