Pay offer creates discussion

AMBULANCE Victoria has refuted claims paramedics could be sent anywhere in the state for up to month at a time.

Regional services general manager Tony Walker said paramedics in rural areas would only be required to relieve at branches within an hour of their usual location.

"Paramedics in rural areas will not need to stay away from home," he said.

"Paramedics in rural areas may be required to relieve for a maximum of four weeks a year but only if not enough paramedics volunteer to undertake the permanent relieving roles.

"Paramedics in rural areas will be paid an allowance for their time on a relieving roster, even if they are not required to travel away from their usual branch.

"Paramedics in rural areas will not be required to work on-call. 

"Whilst paramedics might work the shift at an on-call branch, they will not have to work the on-call portion of the roster."

Mr Walker's comments come after claims from Ambulance Employees Australia that the government wanted the power to "uproot paramedics from their home base to send them anywhere in the state".

State secretary Steve McGhie said such a move would result in a mass exodus from the service.

Mr Walker said there had been a lot of public discussion and misinformation following the latest pay offer about how rural relieving would work.

Ambulance Victoria rejects union's claims

"A relieving system in rural areas will allow short-term unplanned absences like employee sick leave days to be readily replaced by paramedics from the local area who are on duty," he said.

"This will mean there is less reliance on paramedics in rural areas to work voluntary, full shift overtime, risking fatigue and reducing time with families.

"In regional Victoria this will provide a significant benefit to patients with more paramedics available to respond to emergencies.

"We have been trying to negotiate these provisions with the union for two years and we would be happy for an independent ruling by the Fair Work Commission. 

"The Metro reserve system, which has operated for many years, will remain unchanged."

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