Government commits new funding for ambulance services, source of cash unclear

by | Jan 15, 2022 | News | 0 comments

The NT Government says it is injecting $7 million into paramedic services in Darwin and Alice Springs as part of a new funding arrangement, with recruitment starting “immediately”, but have not said where the cash is coming from.

St John NT said it will look to hire an additional 45 staff with the money, including paramedics for new ambulance crews.

The government did not disclose where the “new” funding was found or under what timeframe the total funding commitment will be met.

More clinicians and emergency medical dispatchers will also be sought for the Emergency Communication Centre, the government said, adding that existing ambulance crews in Katherine will also benefit from additional paramedics under the new funding arrangement.

Acting Health Minister Nicole Manison said a “recent campaign” for the Emergency Communication Centre will enable St John to fill five of the new 10 positions “instantly” – boosting capacity to respond to Triple Zero calls.

She did not explain where the new staff would be coming from so quickly.

“This means emergency ambulance calls will be answered quicker and paramedics will be in a better position to respond as swiftly as possible,” she said in a statement.

St John Ambulance NT CEO Judith Barker welcomed the government’s funding commitment saying that the additional staff “will provide long awaited support to a service that has been working beyond its capacity.”

“The past 20 months has presented challenges for all of us, throughout this period however, staff from across our service have remained focused and committed to protecting and providing a service to the community,” Ms Barker said.

“St John NT has worked with the Department of Health to identify how we can best serve our community and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff.”

Last year, a survey by the United Workers Union NT found that more than three quarters of NT paramedics say St John Ambulance puts profits ahead of the welfare of workers and nearly half say they have been bullied and harassed by management for engaging in protected action during bargaining negotiations.

It also found that 86 per cent of paramedics feel that the “NT Government and opposition does not care about the issues facing the NT Ambulance service and its employees”.

In previous years, the United Workers Union in the Northern Territory has been calling for the management of NT’s ambulance to be given back to the government.

St John Ambulance runs ambulance services in the NT and in WA, while every other state’s ambulance services are government run.

St John took over the ambulance service from the NT Government after Cyclone Tracy in 1975 and has maintained control since.

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