The current crisis in emergency health care is not a surprise to Ambulance Victoria and ESTA frontline workers. Since 2015, AV and ESTA have been squeezing staff harder and harder to make a broken system look better than it was.
AV has been filling paramedic shifts with community officers, clearing crews before they finish their case, getting paramedics to work during leave, increasing single officer responding, creating makeshift crews and relying on a recall system that is inefficient and unsustainable. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
For many years, staff in both ESTA and AV have been forced to skip meal breaks and work unreasonable overtime; both to keep the system afloat and to meet Government KPI’s.
The focus on KPI’s has provided AV and ESTA with the ability to hide behind the numbers without reporting on the consequences for staff. Staff are often required to work unsafely to achieve those KPI’s with the possibility of disciplinary action and/or limited promotional opportunities if staff refuse to comply.
The current reporting on the increase in demand is a smoke screen by AV and ESTA to deflect responsibility for their years of operating the emergency health system at unsustainable levels.
Most of the pressure applied by AV and ESTA was there before Covid-19. Warning signs were clearly visible and the employers and others chose to ignore them. One question that needs to be asked is whether AV and ESTA Executives have received financial bonuses for achieving KPI’s, which have been achieved at the cost of staff welfare, and now the Victorian public?
The long-term impact on staff and the system is that there is nothing left in reserve when there is a sustained spike in demand. Staff are their families have borne the brunt of the focus on KPI’s.
The current crisis will require additional resources and/or decreased demand and innovation. To make sure this doesn’t happen again the government needs to review its reporting functions and criteria and the motivations behind those that should be reporting systemic stressors.
To have your say on this issue contact AEAV at [email protected] or call us on 9287 1713.