Ambulancemen threaten action over performance targets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2002, 12:00am

The Hong Kong ambulancemen's union yesterday warned it might stage industrial action if the Fire Services Department (FSD) refuses to withdraw what it claims are unreasonable guidelines on the ambulancemen's service.

The FSD, which runs the ambulance service, was accused of placing extra pressure on ambulancemen by imposing unreasonable target times for the provision of services.

At present, the ambulance service aims for a 12-minute

response time, which includes 10 minutes travelling time, as the performance target. Distance and traffic congestion are often the reasons cited for missing the target.

However, Wat Ki-on, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department Ambulancemen's Union, which has 2,200 members, said after the guidelines were issued three months ago, they could no longer cite distance as a reason if their ambulance did not travel 5km or more within 10 minutes.

'In practice, it's rare for an ambulance to travel up to 5km within such a short period of time,' Mr Wat said.

Other 'unreasonable' guidelines included asking ambulancemen to give explanations if they failed to start transporting a patient from an accident scene to hospital within 20 minutes or failed to explain the patient's condition to hospital staff within 15 minutes of arrival.

Mr Wat criticised the department for placing an extra burden on staff, which would adversely affect their quality of service.

'I am afraid that those staff who don't want to make any trouble may provide false information to our control centre,' he said.

Mr Wat said the union would meet the FSD deputy director, Lam Chun-man, today to demand he withdraw the 'unreasonable' guidelines.

'If they refuse to accept our demands, we do not rule out the possibility of staging industrial action and taking to the streets,' Mr Wat warned.

Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun, who is chairman of Legco's security panel, asked the department to carry out a thorough assessment of the guidelines to determine whether they should remain.