• 26th Oct 2022

Please come home, Aussie paramedics - Herald Sun, page 4 News

‘At least’ 2200 lost to Britain

Written by: Sarah Booth, Rebecca Borg, Mitch Clarke

More than 2000 Australian paramedics are working in Britain, prompting calls for the government to encourage their return to plug a skills shortage.

The Herald Sun has revealed the most recent data shows average ambulance response times have blown out by more than two minutes compared with when Labor won the 2014 election.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday again blamed the pandemic and winter pressures for the failing response times.

Victoria has run out several programs to recruit healthcare workers from overseas. In the past year, almost 700 workers have been brought in from Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, New Zealand, the Philippines and the US.

However, Australasian College of Paramedicine chairman Ryan Lovett said while the recruitment drive was welcome the state should hone in on Australian paramedics working abroad.

At least 2200 Australian-trained paramedics are in Britain alone, Mr Lovett says.

“There’s a great opportunity for us to bring home the products that we’ve lost to overseas jurisdictions,” he said.

Mr Lovett will call on government to target Australian-trained healthcare workers living overseas the National Health Workforce Summit on Thursday.

Australian paramedicine graduates have historically outnumbered available jobs.

But Mr Lovett said this trend – which prompted graduates to move overseas to work – was now slowing.

“For the past 10 or 15 years…London Ambulance would send over recruitment teams and take 200 (of our) people,” he said.

“Now we’re seeing record investment…so we think for the next few years there’s going to be some workforce shifts…and there’s not enough paramedics in the pipeline.”

Preventing staff shortages also meant addressing burnout and Mr Lovett warned senior clinicians were “physically and emotionally exhausted” in the wake of Covid.

He will also tell the summit that paramedics should be stationed in urgent care centres, which are typically staffed by nurses and GPs, to ease pressure on hospitals.

“Put them at the front door of an urgent care centre where they can undertake very comprehensive rapid assessments of patients coming through the door,” he said.

“They’re skilled, experienced and all they need is an opportunity to work in a place… that’s not the front of an ambulance at three on a Sunday morning, where they’re ramped outside of a hospital.”

While international healthcare workers are encouraged to work in Victoria in line with the current recruitment drive, the Victorian Government has assured Australian graduates they will remain first-choice in the recruitment process.

“International recruitment is helping to boost the number of paramedics working in Victoria, and Australian-trained paramedics who have moved overseas will be targeted as part of this campaign,” a state government spokesman said.

The latest data shows just 64 per cent of critical code 1 jobs are being met within the benchmark 15-minute target – compared with 73 per cent in December 2014.

“Covid has done damage,” Mr Andrews said.

“Our job is to repair that and our paramedics have our full support to do that.”

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