Following last week's comments by Gerry Adams suggesting the rostering system for ambulance drivers in the region could put patients at risk, the National Ambulance Service (NAS) released this statement to the paper.
The National Ambulance Service (NAS) can confirm that all non rostered and rostered paramedical staff are permanent employees and are contracted to work and remunerated for 39hrs each week. It is the policy of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) to provide managers, supervisors and staff with clear and unambiguous operational guidelines for the provision of pre-hospital emergency and intermediate care services.
The NAS has a responsibility to ensure full utilisation of staff to accommodate the demands of the service and thereby reduce/eliminate service interruption to patients/clients. The NAS is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the maximum level of service is provided from available resources while also providing non rostered staff with a fair, equitable and transparent approach to rostering arrangements.
Initially non rostered staff are assigned to a NAS Area of Operations. This in practice requires non rostered staff to work in a number of locations. The use of structured annual leave arrangements facilitate the long-term planning of duties for the majority of non rostered staff.
In this context, non rostered staff are assigned to a station, which becomes their “HUB” station. Staff will be required to work within 45km driving distance by the shortest route (from their HUB station or home whichever is shorter). Unfortunately in circumstances of ‘Short Notice Leave’ and to ensure provision of service to our patients, non rostered staff may be re-assigned to another station to meet these needs. Supervisors plan working hours for non rostered staff over a four week period.
However, on the occasion of an unforeseen event, rostering arrangements may be subject to change at short notice. Where there is a decrease in the agreed level of service, non rostered personnel are utilised in the first instance. In the absence of available non rostered personnel, all shifts are offered, on an overtime basis in order to maintain service levels.
Where non rostered staff express a difficulty with the change, the staff member should complete the shift and discuss the matter, when the potential for service interruption has passed, with their supervisor.
Since November 2014 any vacant rostered position which occurs is managed through the Transfer Policy. In this regard an Area Operations Manager who wishes to have the post filled on a permanent basis advises the HR department who in turn processes the application of the next eligible candidate, cognisant of the service requirements of both regions involved in the transfer.
The NAS currently has vacancies that we are trying to fill. We have just completed a national recruitment campaign and are commencing an international recruitment campaign for qualified paramedics. Other countries are also facing challenges in paramedic recruitment and retention. In 2015 we more than trebled the number of paramedics trained through our college.
We would expect to increase this further in 2016 to help address the issue, while also actively maintaining our recruitment campaign.
The NAS has also maintained continuous investment in training of paramedics and advanced paramedics through up-skilling and increasing the number of qualified advanced paramedics across the area.