BALLARAT was short of ambulance services four times during December, according to ambulance staff data sheets.The dropped shift grids reveal that staff shortages, a lack of resources and the deep frustrations of staff working in the dispatch centre have not been resolved.The data shows that there was no ambulance crew in Ballarat on December 23; the city’s single response unit and MICA was not filled on December 28; and Ballarat was one night-shift crew down on December 31 because it was sent to Ararat.Ambulance Employees Association secretary Steve McGhie said the association warned there would not be enough ambulance services available in Ballarat over the festive season due to demand elsewhere.“As I was predicting and raising concerns, there is not enough staff in Ballarat to fill shifts. This is a peak time and the minimum requirements could not be fulfilled,” Mr McGhie said. He said Ambulance Victoria reassured the public that shifts would be filled over the festive season. “It’s something that the government has to address immediately,” he said.According to the dropped shift grids, from January 1 until October 12 last year, Ballarat, Wendouree, Sebastopol, Ballan, Daylesford, Stawell, Ararat and Avoca were left one paramedic team short because members were either unavailable or Ambulance Victoria chose not to fill those shifts.Ballarat, Sebastopol and Wendouree had entire shifts dropped on at least 10 occasions since the beginning of the year, while in other instances the teams were sent to back up units in other parts of the state, according to the dropped shift grids.Mr McGhie said he believed there had been nothing put in place to address the long-standing paramedic crisis.“I think (the government) know they have a problem and they are in a dire financial situation at the moment,” he said.Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard said he had written to the Minister for Health, David Davis, asking the Coalition government about its commitment to increasing paramedic numbers across regional Victoria. “I have reminded them they made a commitment to numbers and asking them what advice they are providing about that,” he said.
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