Overtime payments to Tasmanian paramedics for missed meal breaks grew to 12,750 worth$255,000 in the 2015-16 financial year.
The cost increased from 11,414 missed break payments worth a total of$228,280 the year before.
Paramedics who were not able to take meal breaks within a certain time becausethey hadbeen called to an emergency were paid an allowance. Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the allowance was “in accordance with award provisions and Ambulance Tasmania’s Meal Break Policy”.
The 2015-16 meal break overtime data was detailed in Right to Information documents released on Thursday.
The most recent data in the document showed there were 1077 overtime payments worth $21,540 made statewide in June 2016.
Despite an increase demonstrated in the documents, Mr Ferguson said the data showed the rate of missed meal breaks for paramedics continued to “trend down”.
“[The 2015-16 data] is an improvement compared to 2012-13 …when paramedics missed 13,739 meal breaks at a cost of $137,384,” he said.
“The reason that costs have increased is because the missed meal break allowance was increased as part of the 2013 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement,” he said.
Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson said the situation would improve due to new provisions, which meantif paramedics didn’t have a break within a certain time-frame theywouldonly be dispatched to highest-prioritycases,in the Ambulance Tasmania agreementfinalised in August 2016.
“We’re unable, at this point, to determine exactly what impact the new arrangement hashad, but [it’s] safe to say it does appear many paramedics are getting their breaks now, and they weren’t before,” Mr Jacobsonsaid.
He said the figures in the RTIdocuments were “not surprising”. Mr Jacobson said anecdotal evidence indicatedintense caseloadscontributed to missed breaks.
Mr Ferguson said the state government would continue to work to get the best outcomes for paramedics.
“Since coming to government we have funded 20 additional paramedics, begun a review into increasing paramedics’ scope of practice under our Patients First Action Plan, provided additional anti-violence training and introduced a Bill for mandatory minimum sentences for serious assaults,” Mr Ferguson said.
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