A SPIKE in the number of paramedics on sick leave has cut the number of ambulances on the road in Ballarat.Yesterday during the day there were only five crews working, as opposed to the regular seven.In the evening, Ambulance Victoria struggled to find enough staff to fill one of the four ambulances servicing Ballarat.Ambulance Victoria executive general manager for regional operations Greg Leech said there had been a significant increase in sick leave on Saturday through to yesterday."We've been rostering additional people on overtime to cover vacancies," he said."We haven't looked at reasons behind sick leave."I don't know it can be attributed to the unprotected industrial action, we haven't made any inquiries."Our focus is providing service delivery at the moment."Ambulance Victoria is currently in talks with the Ambulance Employees Victoria who are calling for 10-hour fatigue breaks instead of eight and a pay rise.Only Victorian and West Australian paramedics still have eight-hour minimum breaks.AEV general secretary Steve McGhie said it proved the industry was in crisis."It just goes to show there is a shortage of paramedics," he said."There might have been a spike in sick leave ... but ambulance paramedics are totally fed up."They're tired and fatigued."We want the premier to come out and resolve these issues, the industry is in crisis."Negotiation between the two parties will continue until August 11 and Mr McGhie is hopeful they will reach agreement."At the moments it's having a detrimental effect on the paramedics and an indirect effect on the community," he said."We believe there's a crisis and unless some of the issues are addressed I'm really concerned about what will happen in the future."Ambulance Victoria was still attempting to cover shifts late last night.
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