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Funding for new paramedics

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More than $7m will be given to St John NT by the NT Government to recruit new staff, including paramedics for new ambulance crews in Darwin and Alice Springs.Existing ambulance crews in Katherine will also benefit from additional paramedics under the new funding arrangement.A recent campaign for the Emergency Communication Centre will enable St John NT to fill five of the new ten positions instantly – boosting capacity to respond to Triple Zero (000) calls.St John NT will commence recruitment for all positions immediately.St John NT chief executive Judith Barker said the past 20 months had been difficult for the service.“These additional staff will provide long awaited support to a service that has been working beyond its capacity,” she said.“St John NT has worked with the Department of Health to identify how we can best serve our community and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff.”Acting health minister Nicole Manison said frontline paramedics had done an “outstanding job” over the course of the pandemic.“This means emergency ambulance calls will be answered quicker and paramedics will be in a better position to respond as swiftly as possible,” she said.“We will always stand up for our frontline workers and look forward to seeing more ambulance staff join the ranks in coming months.”Rapid antigen testing sporadic at hospitalsUPDATE: TOP End hospitals have been forced to walk back a promise to test every patient, health worker and staff member amid dwindling rapid antigen supplies. Eleven days after announcing everyone at the Royal Darwin Hospital and Palmerston Regional Hospital would be required to take a rapid antigen test, NT Health scaled back the testing regimen. On Wednesday a health spokeswoman confirmed the earlier announcement that all patients would be tested from January 1, and all staff from January 5, was no longer hospital policy. NT Health said only staff who were close contacts or interstate travellers were required to take daily RATs. She clarified only vulnerable patients would be given daily tests. Vulnerable patients include inpatients from the emergency department and to the transit lounge and renal dialysis patients, oncology outpatients, cardiac outpatients having invasive procedures, and PET Scan patients. On Thursday Chief Minister distanced himself from the earlier January announcement, and backed the new testing plans at the two hospitals. “That was that was a local decision by the Royal Darwin Hospital leadership,” Mr Gunner said. “There was actually a national cabinet decision saying don’t do that.”Mr Gunner said the announcement was “well meaning”, but ultimately a waste on the highly-sought after RAT kits. Mr Gunner said the announcement resulted in upwards of two hour delays to get into the hospital, leading to patients missing their appointments. “Everyone doing rapid agent tests wasn’t the best way of keeping people in the hospital safe and was using I think something like 4000 RATs a day,” he said. “I understand why it was brought in, so I’m not critical of that.“But seeing it actually done in practice, it was clearly not the best way of making people safe.”Mr Gunner assured Territorians there were enough supplies controlled by the government, but he acknowledged that families and businesses may be struggling to get their hands on the tests. Despite being a NT Health contractor, St Johns Ambulance revealed it was responsible for sourcing its own RAT kits. On Tuesday, Director Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas confirmed ambulance worker were not using RATs, and instead were taking regular PCR tests as part of “surveillance testing”.When asked if this was appropriate, Mr Gunner said he would put in an inquiry about RAT supplies for paramedics. “I’ll take that on notice what the relationship is and how we’re working on that,” Mr Gunner said. “I’m not sure how that’s been handled.”PARAMEDICS NOT GIVEN RAT KITSINITIAL, WED: PARAMEDICS will not be given rapid testing kits, forcing workers to remain on the front line while waiting for Covid results. St John Ambulance NT has told workers that it will not provide RAT kits to all Patient Transport Services workers and paramedics before each shift. Director Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas confirmed PCR tests were taken on the first and last shift of a roster as part of surveillance testing. “Results for the testing are received within 24 – 72 hours. As this is surveillance testing, all staff continue to work while awaiting test results,” Mr Thomas said. Mr Thomas said the surveillance PCR screening began on Christmas Eve. He said staff returning from interstate or overseas were given RATs before each shift for seven days after arriving in the Territory. United Workers Union secretary Erina Early said the lack of daily RATs was a concerning testing policy. “Why is St John not demanding that they are provided with the appropriate amount of RAT testing?” Ms Early asked. “St John needs to step up and demand the best safety and testing procedures for our hardworking paramedic and patient transport officers.“Their lives depend on this and so do the lives of their patients.”Mr Thomas said the RAT kits used were not provided by NT Health, and were acquired by St John. “At this stage we have not been affected by any shortages in supply,” he said. Mr Thomas said all staff wear personal protective equipment, including a face mask, face shield, gown and gloves with all patients regardless of their Covid status and the vehicles and equipment undergo decontamination after each patient.“St John NT would like to assure the community that all staff consider the safety and wellbeing of our community and co-workers as the highest priority,” he said.But Ms Early said it was “not acceptable” that sufficient RAT kits were not provided to health workers. “We have genuine concerns that St John do not want to rock the boat as they are renegotiating their contract with (the) government,” Ms Early said. “It would be great for the government to actually demonstrate they care about the wellbeing of our paramedics and patient transport officers instead of hiding behind the contracting of the ambulance service.”Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said she was confident all health services controlled by the NT Government had access to tests, but St John is a contractor within the health system.“We made sure that those important frontline workers that go into high risk situations have access to those RATs,” Ms Manison said.“We are going through procurement to make sure we’ve got even more RAT tests but fortunately, earlier on in the peace we did secure a good amount of RAT tests to move them all the Territory forward.“We did have significant supplies, and we have ordered even more.”

Continue Reading News Story. Published by Melbourne Central Press Syndicate. For feedback write to Amnon Jakony, Founding Editor/Publisher – amnon [at] Thanks for reading.

Continue Reading News Story. Published by Canada Central Press Syndicate. For feedback write to Amnon Jakony, Founding Editor/Publisher - amnon [at] Thanks for reading.

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