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Health News

Northern Rivers Paramedics to benefit from landmark pay negotiations

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Tweed MP Geoff Provest with Northern Rivers paramedics and union representatives who, along with their state colleagues, were some of the lowest paid paramedics in the country. Now they will be among the highest paid.

Northern Rivers Paramedics to benefit from landmark pay negotiations  

 

By Sarah Waters

Northern Rivers Paramedics and their colleagues throughout the state have walked away from a pay dispute with the NSW Government far better off.

Last Wednesday, the state government reached an agreement with the Health Services Union (HSU) on a record pay increase for paramedics.

Almost, 5000 paramedics will receive an average wage increase of 25 per cent over four years – with increases ranging from 11 to 29 per cent – depending on the paramedics’ level of experience.

The pay increase will bring the base salary of a year six paramedics from $79,737 to $88,082 on July 1 next year.

Further increases mean that by July 2026, a year six paramedic will have a base salary of $103,361, while the base pay of critical care paramedics will increase from $98,390 to $127,261.

The base pay of a specialist year three paramedic increases from $90,711 to $117,328.

The agreement followed two years of relentless campaigning by the Ambulance Division of the Health Services Union (HSU) to give paramedics professional rates of pay.

Prior to the pay deal being struck, NSW Paramedics were currently the lowest paid in the country.

HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said paramedics had fought tirelessly and bravely for professional recognition and salary justice.

“Our paramedics are highly skilled professionals who exercise fine clinical judgement under incredible stress,” Mr Hayes said.

“Their work saves lives – finally they will be paid for it.

“We cannot forget that the exodus of paramedics to Queensland happened under the previous government’s 12-year long wage cap,” he said.

Mr Hayes said despite sometimes having a ‘tense relationship’ with the current government, he recognised and appreciate the large task it had in rebuilding the health workforce.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest with Northern Rivers paramedics and union representatives who, along with their state colleagues, were some of the lowest paid paramedics in the country. Now they will be among the highest paid.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest with Northern Rivers paramedics and union representatives who, along with their state colleagues, were some of the lowest paid paramedics in the country. Now they will be among the highest paid.

In a statement, the NSW Government said the pay increase will deliver professional recognition and remuneration to reflect the move towards university qualification of paramedics.

“From the very beginning, this government wanted to deliver professional pay and recognition for paramedics, recognising their special case.

“This follows 12 years of wage suppression and a difficult fiscal position left over by the former Liberal National government.

“In delivering professional rates, our first priority is to retain our existing paramedics while still delivering critical increases in paramedic numbers where they are needed most.”

The four-year agreement will cost $500 million, which the government said will be partially funded from the Essential Services Fund and savings from the Health portfolio, including through savings associated with recruitment challenges.

If an agreement was not reached, thousands of union members were willing to let their paramedic registrations lapse from 1 January next year.

The government scrambled to come to the table with an offer that would put NSW paramedics’ pay on par with their Queensland colleagues.

If the government didn’t come through, it would have potentially resulted in a breakdown of emergency care services, including right before the new Tweed Valley Hospital is due to open.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest has supported local paramedics and union representatives in their quest for increased remuneration and professional development opportunities.

“I stood with our paramedics earlier this year and signed their petition for better pay rates and I’ll happily stand with them now,” Mr Provest said.

“This shouldn’t be political, but the Labor Government committed to better pay rates should they win the 2023 election – they won – and now they must honour their commitment.

“I strongly support our paramedics in their physically and emotionally demanding roles,” he said.

 

For more health news, click here.

Health News

Measles Alert Issued for Northern NSW Residents

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Measles Alert Issued for Northern NSW Residents

Measles Alert Issued for Northern NSW Residents

 

NSW Health has issued a measles alert for residents in northern NSW following confirmation of one measles case. The individual recently returned from Asia, where measles outbreaks have been ongoing, particularly in countries such as Pakistan and India. Those who may have been exposed to the virus are urged to monitor for symptoms.

Locations where exposure may have occurred include:

  • The Singh Company school bus route in the Murwillumbah area on Monday, February 5th, for both morning and afternoon trips.
  • Murwillumbah Hospital’s Emergency Department on Friday, February 9th, between 1:15 pm and 4:00 pm.
  • Murwillumbah Hospital’s Emergency Department on Saturday, February 10th, between 12:15 pm and 8:00 pm.

Dr. Valerie Delpech, North Coast Regional Director of Population and Public Health, reassured the public that while these locations do not pose an ongoing risk, individuals who visited them should remain vigilant for symptoms.

NSW Health has issued a measles alert for residents in northern NSW following confirmation of one measles case in Murwillumbah.

NSW Health has issued a measles alert for residents in northern NSW following confirmation of one measles case in Murwillumbah.

Measles symptoms typically include fever, runny nose, sore eyes, and a cough, followed by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head to the body. The disease spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes and symptoms can appear between 7 and 18 days after exposure.

Dr. Delpech emphasised the importance of seeking medical advice promptly if symptoms develop, urging individuals to call ahead to their GP or emergency department to avoid spreading the virus to others.

She stressed the significance of vaccination, noting that two doses of the measles vaccine are required for full protection, particularly for those born after 1966. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is available free of charge in NSW for individuals born during or after 1966 who haven’t received two doses.

Parents of children aged 6 to 12 months who plan to travel to high-risk measles areas are advised to consult their GP about the possibility of vaccinating their child before traveling. Additional doses of the vaccine are considered safe and are recommended if vaccination status is uncertain, especially before traveling.

MMR vaccine is accessible through GPs for all ages and pharmacies for individuals over 5 years old. Anyone experiencing measles symptoms or seeking further information is encouraged to contact their GP or Healthdirect on 1800 022 222. For comprehensive information on measles, visit the NSW Health website.

 

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Education

Enhanced Support for Early Childhood Health and Development Checks

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Health and Development Checks in Early Childhood Education (HDC) Program

Enhanced Support for Early Childhood Health and Development Checks

 

Early childhood education and care providers are being encouraged to avail themselves of grants aimed at facilitating free health and development checks for 4-year-olds.

In collaboration with NSW Health, the NSW Department of Education is spearheading the Health and Development Checks in Early Childhood Education (HDC) Program, aimed at making these checks readily accessible to all 4-year-olds attending participating services, including public preschools, community preschools, and long-day care centres.

Recent data from the 2021 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) revealed that over 44 percent of NSW children do not meet developmental milestones upon commencing school. Additionally, almost half of all 4-year-olds miss out on their recommended health and development assessments.

The HDC program represents a strategic investment, with local health district professionals teaming up with early childhood services to schedule these checks and identify any necessary support ahead of school entry. The assessments cover various aspects of children’s health and development, including cognitive, social, and emotional development, speech and communication skills, motor skills, and physical growth.

Health and Development Checks in Early Childhood Education (HDC) Program

Early childhood education and care providers are being encouraged to avail themselves of grants aimed at facilitating free health and development checks for 4-year-olds.

Furthermore, the HDC program aims to boost the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children meeting developmental milestones across all five Australian Early Development Census domains to 55 percent by 2031, aligning with Closing the Gap target 4.

To facilitate the HDC program, the NSW Department of Education has allocated over $4 million to its HDC Participation Grant Program. This initiative aims to aid eligible services in accessing the HDC program more efficiently.

Eligible services participating in the HDC program in 2024 can apply for grant funding across three categories, with a total of up to $7,500 in available funds.

These categories include:

  1. Staffing support for the health and development checks program, such as providing relief for educators to complete pre-assessment questionnaires or support children during the checks.
  2. Space development for the health and development checks, including repurposing or refurbishing rooms within the service.
  3. Capacity-building initiatives to support children’s health and development post-check, such as attending workshops or completing training.

Interested services can check their eligibility for the Health and Development Checks in Early Childhood Education (HDC) Program grant and submit applications through the department’s website using the SmartyGrants platform. The application window closes on March 31, 2024.

 

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Health News

Tweed Hospital will shut its doors in three months’ time

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The new Tweed Valley Hospital will open in three months’ time. NSW Health has confirmed the existing Tweed Hospital in Tweed Heads will close.

Tweed Hospital will shut its doors in three months’ time

 

By Sarah Waters

The doors to Tweed Hospital will close in three months’ time, but questions remain over what will happen to the disused facility and site on Powell St and Florence Street in Tweed Heads.

A spokesperson for Northern NSW Local Health District confirmed Tweed Hospital, built in 1972, will close following the opening of the new Tweed Valley Hospital in Kingscliff on May 14.

Only a few community outreach services, such as BreastScreen NSW services will continue to be delivered either at, or nearby, the existing hospital site in Tweed Heads.

The spokesperson for Northern NSW Local Health District said ‘future uses’ for the aging health facility were being investigated.

“The outcomes of site investigations will be considered alongside local and state policy considerations.

“The NSW Government has a formal policy and process to guide the divestment of surplus property owned by NSW Government agencies and consideration of future uses.

“This policy and process will apply to the divestment of the Tweed Hospital site once services transfer to the new Tweed Valley Hospital and the existing hospital is decommissioned.”

The new Tweed Valley Hospital will open in three months’ time. NSW Health has confirmed the existing Tweed Hospital in Tweed Heads will close.

The new Tweed Valley Hospital will open in three months’ time. NSW Health has confirmed the existing Tweed Hospital in Tweed Heads will close.

The new $723.3 million Tweed Valley Hospital has been hailed as one of the largest regional capital health investments funded by the NSW Government.

It will allow 5000 patients to be treated each year and has been designed to provide the health services required for the growing Northern Rivers population.

Patients, staff and visitors will be able to access free parking at the new hospital.

There is also a bus stop directly opposite the hospital on 771 Cudgen Road, Cudgen, (opposite Kingscliff TAFE)

More information on transport options will be provided by NSW Health in the coming weeks.

SIDEBAR:

Community members are invited to take a behind-the-scenes look at the new Tweed Valley Hospital.

The Tweed Valley Hospital Community Open Day will be help on Saturday, March 16, 2024, from 10am – 2pm

Location: Tweed Valley Hospital, 771 Cudgen Road, Cudgen.

The public will have a chance to walk through some of the new hospital’s key services including the emergency department, maternity, intensive care, cancer care and outpatients’ services.

There will be an information and exhibition zone, fun activities for the kids and refreshments.

 To register, please visit here.

 

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