STAFF shortages are forcing Ambulance Victoria to routinely operate night shifts without a quarter of its Ballarat crew, the emergency service’s union secretary has said.
However, Ambulance Victoria has dismissed the claims, saying there was no paramedic shortage in Ballarat.
Ambulance Employees Australia, state secretary Steve McGhie said staff were under increasing pressure with Ambulance Victoria struggling to recruit and retain staff.
“There is clearly under-resourcing in Ballarat ... the ambulance service is not fully staffed 10 to 15 per cent of the month in Ballarat,” Mr McGhie said.
“On an average the service is running short of one crew – two paramedics – out of the four crews rostered on at night.
Mr McGhie said the shortage created extra pressure on the staff, leaving them to front disgruntled patients and their families.
But Ambulance Victoria regional manager Greg Leach said there was no paramedic shortage in Ballarat.
“There are more than 70 paramedics working at Ballarat branches, including several new graduate paramedics, one of whom started this week,” Mr Leach said.
“Ballarat branches are highly sought-after by paramedics and there are many paramedics waiting on Ballarat team transfer lists.”
Mr Leach said there were only four vacancies at Ballarat branches and all vacant shifts were being filled.
“In the past two months, no shifts have been dropped,” he said.
“Two paramedics have left work an hour or two early for personal reasons.
“Four shifts have started later than the rostered start time due to the paramedics responding to emergencies the night before but we have retained the day crew to provide coverage.”
Mr Leach said Ballarat’s attrition rates were reflective of those across the state at being less than four per cent.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Health David Davis said the government was investing $151 million to recruit 340 additional ambulance staff, including 49 paramedics in the health regions servicing Ballarat.