Ambulance Victoria (AV) has been caught out using ‘creative accounting’ to publicly report misleading figures on the concerns of paramedics.
In their Annual Report AV used a data manipulation technique that is not universally accepted to inflate positive responses in order to achieve 80% – the government’s key performance indicator.
In 2018/19 AV reported overall positive responses for “safety and culture”as 83%* (actual figure for patient safety 63%**). In 2017/18 AV reported 84% (actual figure 64%). In 2019/20 AV reported 85% with no comparable figures published.
These findings by the ambulance union AEAV come at a time when AV is under significant public pressure for failing to act to address entrenched bullying and culture issues.
AV reports on eight key statements put to staff in their yearly People Matter Survey. Statements where the results have been manipulated include “Management is driving us to be a safety-centred organisation” and “I would recommend a friend or relative to be treated as a patient here.” Both reported as receiving 91% positive responses when they were actually 67% and 79%.
Ambulance Victoria initially told the government and the Victorian public they were not aware of the cultural issues and then stated they were not aware of the full extent when paramedics and the data suggested otherwise. The data proves the issues were well known for many years and AV failed to act.
Quotes attributable to AEAV Secretary Brett Adie:
“After the long overdue admission by AV in November that there was an issue, we can now see how they managed to keep it under wraps for as long as they did. A footnote on a report justifying data manipulation is not good enough. Minimising the daily pressures that have been the life for staff for many years is a personal insult to every Ambulance Victoria employee.
“Ambulance Victoria executives stood in front of the media and said it was a dark day for ambulance. I would say today is a dark day for Ambulance Victoria executives. There is a clear pattern of behaviour here of presenting to the public and the government a service that was coping, when in fact it was not.
“Questions must now be asked – who signed off on this and who stands to gain from hiding the real story. There are people inside and outside of AV who knew the real story and failed to speak up. Today we have an ambulance service in crisis and part of that is because for many years issues were not addressed.
“It is time for full disclosure of which executives received performance bonuses as a result of playing down the issues within AV. We call on the government to step in or how can staff be expected to have confidence in the promise of cultural change. Careers and potentially lives were lost. Someone should be held accountable.”
AEAV Secretary Brett Adie is available for interviews.
* Annual Report 2018/2019 published figure is on Page 48.
** People Matter Survey 2018 patient safety figures are on Page 11 and when averaged equals 63%.
Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria (AEAV) is a section of the United Workers Union.
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