Ambulances were regularly left sitting idle across the Hume region last year because the Napthine Government and Ambulance Victoria failed to fill thousands of paramedic shifts, including 518 unfilled shifts in the Hume Region.

Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Wade Noonan, said documents obtained under Freedom of Information revealed that 2,939 shifts were left unfilled by Ambulance Victoria in 2012 which included 518 in the Hume Region.

“Last year, the Napthine Government left 518 paramedic shifts unfilled across the Hume Region, up from 252 in 2011,” Mr Noonan said.

“Every time a shift goes unfilled, people living across the Hume region are left dangerously exposed and entire communities are left without any ambulance cover – which is placing lives at risk.

“The problem of unfilled shifts is being caused by a range of factors, including excessive overtime and shift extensions, resourcing constraints, absenteeism and high levels of fatigue.”

Mr Noonan said a recent report by the Auditor-General highlighted concerns about the centralisation of rostering arrangements and indicated that team managers had reported this policy had contributed to the problem of managing unplanned leave in regional and rural Victoria.

“Clearly, the policy of centralising rostering arrangements in Melbourne has caused real problems, particularly in regional and rural areas of the state,” Mr Noonan said.

“Many paramedics have told me the centralised roster system is a shambles and that it needs to be handed back to the regional and rural management team.”

Mr Noonan said the problem of unfilled shifts had an impact on ambulance response times across both Melbourne and Victoria.

“It doesn’t matter whether you live in metropolitan Melbourne or regional Victoria, the fact is one in four ambulances are failing to respond to life-threatening emergencies within 15 minutes.”

FOI Data – Unfilled shifts for 2012
Region Unfilled Shifts
Barwon South West 192
Grampians 218
Loddon Mallee 462
Hume 518
Gippsland 311
Metropolitan Melbourne 1,238
Regional Victoria 1,701
Statewide Total 2,939



Published on April 17, 2013