'Win for common sense'

THE Health Services Union hopes a decision by the NSW Ambulance Service yesterday will mark the end of extended ambulance response times across the region.

A HSU spokeswoman said the Ambulance Service had agreed in the Industrial Relations Commission to remove overtime-reduction measures that meant only on-duty paramedics responded to non-urgent jobs.

The commission's recommendations stated that "the Ambulance Service of NSW has agreed to vary the control centre instruction, issued September 3 by deleting the words, 'on duty crews must be utilised prior to on call crews'."

The HSU began the campaign for on-call crews to be used after it found patients had been left to wait for hours for an ambulance when an on-call paramedic was close by.

In one case a Murwillumbah man suffering cardiac arrest died after waiting 27 minutes for an ambulance.

HSU divisional secretary Gerard Hayes hailed the decision to task on-call paramedics as a "victory for common sense".

He said the union would continue its campaign for better staffing by approaching the Health Minister Jillian Skinner for extra resources.

A NSW Ambulance Service spokeswoman was unable to confirm the service had agreed to the decision, but said the service was "happy with (the) decision and will continue to work with the HSU and the IRC for a positive outcome".

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