The number of NSW workers’ compensation claims launched by paramedics has blown out by 75 per cent.
The value of claims being made has almost doubled in the past three years.
The NSW Auditor-General has singled out the amount of overtime worked by members of the NSW Ambulance Service as a major issue, urging a review of how rostering is done.
The latest NSW Health annual report showed there were 636 workers’ compensation claims by ambulance workers worth $7.5 million in 2018-2019.
That’s compared to 361 claims worth $4.4 million in 2016-2017.
iCare, which administers the workers compensation, said the increase in ambulance claims “is largely attributable to a material increase in mental stress claims”.
“Over the last three years, the number of claims relating to assaults against ambulance officers has decreased,” it said.
Ambulance claims in the last financial year accounted for 14.4 per cent of all claims, but almost a fifth of the total amount paid.
iCare said the average cost per claim for ambos was $22,110 last financial year, up from $17,448 the previous year.
The sum includes all benefits, medical costs, rehab, settlement and legal costs.
Campbelltown paramedic and Health Services Union delegate Jason Kirkaldy says the long hours and lack of resources have taken a toll on many of his workmates.
“We’re getting flogged out on the road,” he says.
Opposition health spokesman Ryan Park described the numbers as shocking.
“These are shocking statistics and what they show is that our frontline paramedics are under incredible pressure.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the government is bringing hundreds more paramedics on board and more money has gone towards their budget in the past three years.
But HSU secretary Gerard Hayes says it’s inadequate.
“This is a matter we’ve been talking about for a decade; the government’s recently announced 700 extra paramedics, we need at least 13 (hundred) to 1400.”
Nurses topped the list with more than one third of all claims.