NSW ambos refuse to collect billing info

Paramedics are protesting the NSW government's order to pay their own Working With Children checks.
Paramedics are protesting the NSW government's order to pay their own Working With Children checks.

Paramedics across NSW are giving ambulance patients a free ride to protest the state government's order that they pay for their own Working With Children checks.

As of Wednesday night, paramedics stopped collecting billing information from patients transported in ambulances.

Australian Paramedics Association NSW Secretary Steve Pearce says the ban is a protest against the $80 fee, not the check itself.

"As emergency services first-responders we are not prepared to pay for something that should be covered by employers," he told AAP on Thursday.

"Paramedics are really angry, they're not going to cop this."

Mr Pearce said the state's 16,000 police and Fire & Rescue staff had already been granted an exemption from the $80 fee.

Paramedics are required to have their Working With Children checks by the end of the month but Mr Pearce expects up to 60 per cent of officers to refuse.

"On April 1 paramedics will turn up to work as rostered and they'll have to be stood down - we're looking at chaos," he said.

The union boss said although small, the fee was a "slap in the face" to paramedics who regularly work overtime due to staffing issues.

"They're working long hours past the end of their shifts, they're not getting their meal breaks and then to hit them with $80 ... It's just not on, they've hit the wall and they just won't pay it," he said.

Mr Pearce estimated the financial loss to NSW Ambulance since the protest kicked in was already enough to cover the $220,000 required to pay for all checks.

"That's the irony and ridiculous nature of this," he said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard was scathing of the union taking industrial action.

Their priority should be on keeping children safe, not worrying about the four cents per day cost of a Working With Children check.

"It's 28 cents a week ... and they're paying anything up to $10 per week to belong to the union. Where is common sense?" Mr Hazzard told AAP.

"I would have thought there are bigger fish to fry. This is not a sensible position for the union."

The minister said 88,000 teachers, 50,000 nurses, tens of thousands of other NSW workers and about a third of the state's 4600 paramedics had already paid the $80 fee.

Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord says the government knew about the paramedics' threat to take industrial action two years ago but did nothing.

"Paramedics warned the Berejiklian government they would begin action in March 2018," Mr Secord said in a statement.

"Clearly the Berejiklian government has the wrong priorities and is out of touch."

Australian Associated Press