Concerns over Extended Care Paramedic role on the Mid North Coast

Increased pressure: Bonny Hills Medical Centre owner and doctor Sam Nelapati, nurse Brett Lewis-Bain and medical student Jacob van der Linden.
Increased pressure: Bonny Hills Medical Centre owner and doctor Sam Nelapati, nurse Brett Lewis-Bain and medical student Jacob van der Linden.

Medical professionals are concerned there will be increased pressure on health services and hospitals once NSW Ambulance paramedic Peter Versluis retires in July.

Peter is an Extended Care Paramedic (EPC) and has an increased clinical role to reduce unnecessary presentations to hospital Emergency Departments (EDs).

Bonny Hills Medical Centre owner and doctor Sam Nelapati said he is concerned that no funding has been allocated to fill Peter's position and none is available to train up existing paramedics in the region.

Sam has spoken to local politicians, NSW Ambulance and hospital staff to raise awareness about the issue.

Sam said EPC funding for urban areas has been prioritised over regional areas.

He said it's disappointing that rural patients aren't going to have the same access to healthcare that urban patients have.

Without access to an EPC, Sam said there will be increased pressure on hospitals, medical centres and other health facilities.

According to the NSW Ambulance website an EPC can offer safe and effective healthcare choices to patients and improve clinical outcomes to reduce the number of contacts patients require to access appropriate care.

Sam said it's important for the community to be aware of the service that Peter provides and what they are about to lose.

"What Peter has done over the last few years is absolutely amazing," he said.

"He's built up such a fantastic relationship with numerous members of the community."

Ideally, Sam would like funding to be allocated so there could be at least one EPC in each town.

The Camden Haven Courier asked NSW Ambulance if there are any future plans to allocate funding towards ECP training.

A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said all registered paramedics have capability to provide care and discharge at home, treat, refer the patients to other health services or transport a patient to hospital.

"There will be an additional 17 paramedics allocated across the North Coast and Mid-North Coast over the next 12 months as part of the NSW Government budget announcement," she said.

"The announcement made in June last year included a record investment in NSW Ambulance of more than $1 billion for 2018-19 and an unprecedented boost of 700 additional paramedics and 50 control centre staff over four years."

Local Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said she has heard the concerns of the community.

"I will raise this matter directly with the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard when Parliament sits next week," she said.

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