The Courier
Friday, 1 December 2023

Ambulance Victoria in crisis: Ballarat paramedics

By Meg Rayner
Updated November 2 2012 - 2:55pm, first published November 4 2010 - 2:37pm
Ambulance Victoria in crisis: Ballarat paramedics
Ambulance Victoria in crisis: Ballarat paramedics

EXPLOSIVE Ambulance Victoria documents leaked to The Courier reveal a system in crisis.Day sheets from the Ballarat/Geelong Daily Communications Log reveal drastic staff shortages, a lack of resources and the deep frustrations of staff working in the dispatch centre.The log is meant to be reviewed daily by AV managers. A series of pages dating from September 6 to October 24 were obtained this week by The Courier.Their release was timed to coincide with a unanimous vote of no confidence lodged with AV by Ballarat paramedics, who have spoken out about their lack of faith in the dispatch centre operating out of Geelong.About 30 paramedics attended a meeting at Ballarat Trades Hall on Wednesday night, where they unanimously agreed on a vote of no confidence in the current dispatch system within the Grampians region. Another 20 or so submitted their votes by proxy. The letter, which is addressed to Health Minister Daniel Andrews, AV chief executive officer Greg Sassella, and AV managers Tony Walker and Mark Rogers, says the current system is putting patients' lives at risk.One paramedic, who asked not to be named, said they planned to meet with state government representatives and demand action. "No longer do we want to be liable for the danger put to the public. By submitting the letter we're putting the whole onus on the service," he said. AV Special Services general manager Mark Rogers said management was aware of the shortcomings in the current system. He said a centralised communications centre based in Ballarat should be fully operational across the state by April next year."Geelong and Ballarat and their regions will be the last to change over to the new system as other areas have had a higher need for the change more quickly," he said."We've never hidden away from the amount of work we have to do but we have told our staff the process that will be involved and look forward to continuing to work with them to bring them across to the new regional communication system."Ballarat East MLA Geoff Howard said he looked forward to talking to local paramedics and hearing their feedback."I am concerned by the action of our Ballarat paramedics," he said. "They do a great job and I don't like hearing that they are unhappy with the present despatch system,'' he said."The government in June ... committed to a further substantial increase of 234 paramedics on the ground in regional Victoria within the next 12 months. As these come from training they will ensure greater flexibility in ambulance service delivery."However opposition spokesman for health David Davis said it was time John Brumby and Daniel Andrews "crawled out from under their Melbourne desks and faced the music"."Their incompetence has put lives at risk," he said. "Just like the Auditor General who pointed to the failing of government's management of ambulances, local paramedics are doing their best but are deeply frustrated by Brumby's mismanagement."

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