THE STATE government has defended claims it is not employing enough paramedics to meet demand in central Victoria, as an industrial dispute over working conditions looks set to boil over.
Bendigo paramedics have criticised the lack of staffing and said there were not enough paramedics to cover their long rosters and to meet growing demand.
Health Minister David Davis said new ambulance facilities in Bendigo had enabled paramedics to be better placed to respond to critical emergencies.
Since the government came into office he said 95 of the 113 new paramedics had been deployed to ambulance stations in rural Victoria.
Ambulance Victoria’s Loddon Mallee regional manager Kevin Masci said the service was “steadily building” the number of paramedics in the region.
“We have added a dedicated MICA resource which is manned 24/7,” he said.
“We have added an additional two roster lines into Bendigo, which is also being filled by new positions in the team.
“We have also added another 15 paramedics into Bendigo’s surrounding area to distribute the caseload and to increase teams based in Bendigo ability to respond to calls from the local community.”
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the government was ignoring the key issue – that Bendigo stations were under-resourced.
Ms Edwards has called for the government to increase funding for additional paramedics and ambulance resources in this year’s state budget.
“The ambulance delays and lack of paramedics has caused great concern for many people in the community,” she said.
“Despite a looming crisis in our regional ambulance services, the government has failed to commit to additional ambulance resources in Bendigo for over two years.”