Ambo inquiry vindicates Wroth claims

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

SICK and injured people in regional WA cannot continue to rely on unpaid volunteers to provide ambulance services, a State parliamentary inquiry has found.

It said country communities had no guaranteed access to ambulance services and that patients living in 98.5 per cent of the state had no guaranteed response times.

“Continued reliance on volunteers to perform ambulance services is not sustainable,” the inquiry found.

Public health officials were urged to investigate using paid paramedics to extend regional ambulance services in a ‘hybrid model’ to support volunteers who currently respond to 90 per cent of all country calls.

A total of 74,000 calls last year were responded to by regional volunteers – a 22 per cent increase over the previous five years.

The inquiry also reported that more than 85 per cent of “frontline” paramedics did not trust senior St John Ambulance management.

Evidence suggested that “cultural issues” inside WA’s privately run ambulance service “extends to serious matters such as harassment and bullying,” the inquiry said.

“Current processes do not adequately address these matters.”

Despite three other recent inquiries, St John Ambulance had failed to resolve “issues” in its workplace and organisational culture.

The inquiry reported “numerous examples of employees in fear of reporting their issues to come forward and air their concerns because of possible ramifications”.

The findings echo claims by former veteran Toodyay St John Ambulance chair Charlie Wroth (above), who was sacked by Perth administrators and stripped of his 39-year volunteer membership after criticising management workplace culture at a private 2019 emergency services forum organised by WA National Party MPs in Northam.

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