BALLARAT paramedics intercepted Health Minister David Davis yesterday and demanded he retract claims their colleagues faked a photograph to fabricate a crisis in the health system.
Up to 20 protestors chanting “stop the lies and open your eyes” were waiting for Mr Davis when he arrived at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital for an announcement.
On Thursday, Mr Davis claimed he caught paramedics faking a photograph showing patients crammed into Frankston Hospital’s emergency department.
He released closed-circuit television footage from the hospital which showed about half a dozen paramedics moving patients into a corridor.
Joining yesterday’s protest, Ballarat advanced life-support paramedic Jeff Evans said paramedics were seeking a public retraction of the minister’s statement in the media suggesting they mistreated patients.
“It’s just to provide a presence and make David Davis aware slanderous statements in the media aren’t going to stop our campaign for pay parity with other states,” he said.
Ballarat state emergency communication centre duty manager Matt Sing wore a Grim Reaper costume with the words ‘health minister’ on the front.
“This is the health minister who is slashing the ambulance service to bits,” he said.
“In Ballarat, from a control room point of view, there’s times where there’s absolutely no resources available and we’re dispatching ambulances from Daylesford and Beaufort.”
Mr Sing said when he arrived in Ballarat several years ago, ramping was not an issue, but in the past six months it was “atrocious”.
Mr Davis’s comments on Thursday were an “absolute joke”, Mr Sing said. “The people on stretchers waiting were not there for no reason,” he said.
“Whether they are pulled into the emergency area or not, they are genuine patients who need a hospital bed and cannot get one”.
But Mr Davis said the paramedics involved in the Frankston photograph had, under the direct control of the union, sought to mislead the community.
“These were forged, fake photographs that do not reflect what happened at Frankston,” he told The Courier yesterday.
He said the union’s campaign for pay increases wasn’t helped by “lying and misleading the community”.