PARAMEDICS in Ballarat are sad, despondent and lacking morale after receiving a lacklustre reply to their vote of no confidence in the dispatch system.In November last year they sent a letter to former health minister Daniel Andrews, Ambulance Victoria chief executive officer Greg Sassella and AV managers Tony Walker and Mark Rogers warning the current system was putting patients' lives at risk."The disorganised and under-resourced merger between Ballarat and Geelong Operation Centres, that has been implemented without consultation or apparent foresight or research, has resulted in undue stress to call centre staff and Grampians region operation staff," it states."We can no longer operate under conditions that allow inappropriate dispatch and utilisation of emergency vehicles, coupled with the ineffective and delayed response and dispatching times to emergency cases."One of the paramedics, who asked to remain unnamed, told The Courier this week they never heard back from Mr Andrews or any of the AV bosses."It's just sad, the care factor is going and morale is completely bottomed out," he said.AV regional general manager Greg Leach said he was taking charge of the issue at a local level."Greg Sassella's view would be that I could deal with the matter here," he said."(Last year) myself and a group of managers meet with the operations manager of the dispatch centre in Geelong and identified some improvements to call-taking and despatch arrangements."The feedback I've had since then is the working relationship between the operation centre staff and on-road staff has improved quite significantly."According to Mr Leach these improvements include:* More timely intervention by regional duty manager to discuss resourcing issues so decisions can be made about recalling crews;* More timely intervention by the clinician who can look at the clinical needs of a case and determine which cases need to be resourced in a priority order; and* Improved directions for the operations centre in terms of providing coverage to local communities.However Ambulance Employees Australia state secretary Steve McGhie said nothing much had changed."I think the ambulance service have treated the paramedics in Ballarat with contempt. It's really disappointing," he said."With the change of government the new minister will have a look at ambulance issues and we hope he'll respond."Health Minister David Davis said he would meet with Ballarat paramedics and dispatch centre operators soon ."I do take their views very seriously and I have already met with both AV and the union," he said.
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