Residents responded to ambulance workers’ calls to protest the proposed shut down of Fairfield’s Ambulance Office, with about 200 people gathering on November 26 to show their opposition to the NSW government’s plans to close it down.
The government plan involves basing all local ambulances at a new “superstation” at Bankstown, to coordinate with outlying paramedic response points.
Not only are residents concerned about the longer response times when they need care, the working day for ambulance workers in Fairfield will be lengthened given that Bankstown is 14 kilometres away.
Peter Taffa, who had a heart attack in 2014 and was saved by an ambulance arriving within minutes, said: “The decision to move the ambulances to be based at Bankstown defies belief. It’s incredibly short-sighted. How can this decision possibly benefit the public? It all comes back to that. This decision will kill people.”
Embattled NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has been very public about her intention to privatise more of NSW health services. Last year, she said dividing emergency and non-emergency ambulances was a precursor to the Mike Baird government privatising non-urgent patient transfers. This provides some of the context to the “streamlining” of the number of stations and ambulance workers.
The Ambulance Division Health Services Union is running a “We all matter” campaign, opposing the Baird government’s $3 billion cuts to health which includes sacking 3600 hospital workers; $2.2 billion in service cuts; and $775 million in staffing cuts.
The union said funding cuts has already had a critical effect on paramedics’ capacity to protect the community. It also said the number of paramedics has not increased to meet demand or population growth over the last 10 years.