Supporting Their Staff

As those who have read this blog for a while will already know, there was a lot more involved in the last few years than a pay rise in Ambulance Victoria.

There were many issues raised about the health, safety and welfare of paramedics in Victoria.

Paramedics employed by Ambulance Victoria are the most likely workers in the state by a long chalk to suffer a lost time work related injury.

Paramedics employed by Ambulance Victoria are far more likely to take their own lives than other Victorians.

Paramedics employed by Ambulance Victoria are required to work extremely fatiguing rosters, without rest or meal breaks.

Paramedics employed by Ambulance Victoria work shifts of up to 16 or 18 hours regularly, unthinkable for truck drivers.

Anecdotally paramedics suffer incredibly high rates of both physical and mental injuries and illnesses as a result of being so fatigued for so long without respite. Gastrointestinal problems, cardiac arrhythmias, heart disease, PTSD, depression and anxiety, I could go on…

Imagine my excitement in recent months.
For the first time in many years in Victoria there is a government that is taking the time to listen to paramedics.

There is an administrator and a new CEO, that are most certainly “talking the talk”.

The trouble is it seems too many of the managers in between just don’t get it. A senior manager was seen at a Western Victorian branch telling staff that they would be “enforcing” fitness for duty assessments in response to sick leave patterns.

This is where they stand a paramedic down and subject them to a battery of medical examinations to assess their fitness for the job.

Make no mistake about it their job is on the line.

They dress it up in Orwellian style HR new speak all right, because the intent is clear. They seem to have it in their heads that the only way to reduce sick leave is to stand people down.

Why they are taking the leave doesn’t really factor, they cannot do anything about it. Sick leave is also a key performance indicator on which in part they are judged, so it is in their interest to “warn staff off”

I guess its easier than trying to fix the cause of the problem in the first place.

Particularly in an organisation where, in the past at least these so called managers have had no authority to actually manage. Apart from trying to poke their staff with a sharp stick. To try and squeeze that little more blood out of the stone.

They are far from the only organisation that has this problem.

Ambulance services in the UK are so short of staff they are in Australia trying to poach as many paramedics as they can.

Perhaps this cautionary tale may shed some light on why.

It is the story of UK paramedic, Melvin Salisbury

‘Over the Christmas period, he had been working 16-hour days. The stress of his job became too much and he suffered a breakdown about a month ago, when he was found disorientated in Great Hatfield, close to Hornsea.

‘Unbeknown to his family, he had underlying heart problems and he became unwell on Friday, April 24, after attending a review meeting about his time off work.’

He went home after that meeting and died.
Just a shame they refuse to accept responsibility, or even acknowledge for how he came to be there.

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3 Responses to Supporting Their Staff

  1. Sure says:

    the reality is that, while the completely disconnected few at the top of the tree are talking the talk, they can’t control the mind sets of their minions so they aren’t ever going to be able to walk the walk. In this case, the minions refer to the administrative branches and managers underneath them. People who were chosen BECAUSE of their confrontational and dictatorial attitudes toward staff. Human Resources and Employee relations top the bad attitude list and until they are cleaned out first, nothing will change. After that ALL GM and TM positions must be suspended and new applications made. However, not before they are subjected to evaluations from the staff they manage. Only then will the talk we’re hearing transition in a walk.

  2. Patrick says:

    There is a recent Federal Ruling in regard to this which does stipulate that an employee is required to attend if it is Lawful and Resonable. Which is something a employer must clearly establish.

    Reasonable being the important term.

    Fair Commissions ruling was inclusive of employer nominated specialist. However this is not stipulated in the Federal Ruling which is legally binding.

    So what is reasonable which is the grey area employers try to manipulate.

    Nominated Specialist. For want of a better word “Retained Specialists” by the employer would have a degree of conflict of interest. For such “CONSISTENT” referrals, by TAC, Work Care, and large organisations are extremely lucrative. $2000-$4000 a report.

    Which is considerably cheaper then retaining lawyers or fighting such matters before the court.

    So should this ever pop up on your radar. Go straight to a lawyer absolutely immediately.

  3. lu says:

    The CERT go to priority 0, code 1 & 2.
    Myself & 2 other members put in a complaints to AV management for harassment,bullying, breaches of protocols & procedures, regarding the team leader & one other member of the CERT.
    HR & AV management did not help us in any way at all.
    After a very extensive investigation the three of us were cleared.
    I was volunteering 40hrs per week & since my complaint the team leader would not put me on shift,as this is victimization I did talk to many AV managers and many time they said they would sort it out…..but never did. HR said that I had to take it up with the committee of management! but how do I do that when both of the people under investigation are on the Comm.
    With NO support at all from AV the CERT Comm. had a meeting & the 3 of us we voted out, we are “Prejudicial & Detrimental” to our community.
    We did get a Lawyer & so did AV.
    What a sad day that was.
    AV will take NO responsibility for their volunteers, it’s a bloody disgrace…………………………

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