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Call centre plan angers paramedics' union

Posted on May 06 2009
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The paramedics' union has condemned a plan to centralise country Victoria's ambulance communications.

This week's State Budget confirms Ambulance Victoria's call centres in Bendigo, Geelong, Morwell and Wangaratta will be replaced by a state-wide operation run from Ballarat.

Ambulance Victoria says there should not be any net job losses in the move and affected staff will be offered other local positions.

But Ambulance Employees Association spokesman Steve McGhie says while a centralised system works in Melbourne, it is unsuitable in country areas.

"It's premised on the fact that it's been centralised in metropolitan Melbourne for some years," he said.

"But rural Victoria's different. You need that local knowledge.

"Also in rural Victoria we don't have the ambulance resources like they do in metropolitan Melbourne."

Ambulance Victoria says centralising its country call centre operations will not affect the service it delivers to patients.

Spokesman Gary Cook says local knowledge is not crucial to the call centre's operations.

"We still look after vast geographic areas," he said.

"We have people that move between those five centres to provide relief.

"It's not unusual for people from Morwell to work in Wangaratta or Bendigo. So keeping those centres running 24-hours-a-day, you quite often don't have people with local knowledge and you rely on the mapping systems and the call-taking processes."

The call centres will be replaced some time in the next two years.

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