Victoria’s Paramedics searching for work elsewhere

A STATE government study has found that almost one in three paramedics is looking for another job because of bullying, workload pressure or lack of support.

Fairfax Media has seen an unreleased survey that shows nearly a third of Victoria’s paramedics are actively searching for work elsewhere – and almost two-thirds are thinking of leaving – because they are unhappy with the job. And 34 per cent said they had been bullied and more than half claim they are stressed.

The figures are likely to be sensitive for the Baillieu government as it seeks to negotiate a new wage deal with the ambulance union, particularly after annual reports showed response times were getting longer despite promises to fix them.

Earlier this year, Fairfax also revealed that an average of eight ambulances a day remained unused as Ambulance Victoria struggled to fill thousands of paramedic shifts.

”We know that response times have blown out under the Baillieu government while ambulances sit idly at hospitals unable to transfer their patients – now morale among paramedics has hit rock bottom,” said Labor’s health parliamentary secretary, Wade Noonan.

The survey was conducted by the government’s State Services Authority, and is based on responses from 880 paramedics. It also found:

■More than half the workforce does not have confidence that management will deal promptly with grievances.

■About 80 per cent don’t believe the job provides enough work-life balance.

■Only a quarter believe the organisation is committed to developing its employees.

Ambulance Victoria chief executive Greg Sassella said the organisation had made many reforms over the past few years, and acknowledged ”that major change of this scale will have an impact on our people”.

But he said the organisation was actively working to improve the culture and quality of service. For instance, Ambulance Victoria had put in place a program to tackle the cultural challenges and the changing expectations of younger staff, while an independent expert advisory group had been set up to assist the leadership team.

Health Minister David Davis said he welcomed the report, and pointed out that issues such as rostering and workplace flexibility were being negotiated in the enterprise bargaining agreement with the union.

Ambulance Employees Association of Victoria general secretary Steve McGhie said he was not surprised by the findings as he had repeatedly raised these concerns with the government.

”We’ve raised issues with the Health Minister on three occasions – about shifts not being filled, overtime blowouts … workcover injury rates. We’re not getting many answers though.”

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