This is the text from an article in The Mercury Newspaper
by: DAMIEN BROWN | September 07, 2010 - 08.30am
Claims have surfaced of ambulance officers being paid overtime to work during their annual leave to cover staff shortages, to the anger of the Liberal Party.
More paramedics and volunteer ambulance officers yesterday contacted the Mercury following a series of reports of disgruntled workers fed up with understaffing, not being properly equipped and having to cope with a massive 50 per cent increase in demand over the past five years.
And there have been reports of patients dying because ambulances have not been able to get to them in time -- and some staff being owed as much as a year's worth of annual leave.
Documents obtained by the Mercury this week show that ambulance officers, along with doctors and nurses, are in such short supply they cannot take their accumulated holidays.
A volunteer officer said yesterday that some staff were being paid overtime rates to work during their holidays to cover for staff shortages.
He also cited volunteer workers having to work up to 20 hours and not having their uniforms replaced.
"We are doing the same work as the career officers but feel like we are just treated like second-class citizens," said the volunteer, who did not want to be identified.
"The day you go to work and bring someone back to life or deliver a bub, it makes it all worth it, but we can't continue to be ignored by management for much longer or we're going to crack."
Ambulance Tasmania chief executive officer Dominic Morgan and Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne have urged ambulance officers and the Tasmanian community to be patient.
Mr Morgan has admitted things are not perfect but is confident that when a raft of initiatives is introduced they will make a difference.
But Liberal health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said yesterday the program to help fix the sick ambulance service needed to be sped up.
"The State Government has supposedly re-injected millions into the Budget to secure front-line health services but you can't get any more front-line than ambulance services, so when staffing is stretched so tight why isn't the Government actively recruiting more ambulance officers to fill the gaps?" he said.
Til then, be safe.
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