A report by Victoria's independent anti-corruption commission, IBAC, has been tabled in Parliament today, revealing serious drug misuse at Ambulance Victoria.
Among other serious misconduct, IBAC identified the theft and misuse of morphine and fentanyl by paramedics. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and is increasingly identified as the cause of accidental deaths in Australia.
The report makes it clear that misconduct is likely to exist beyond the instances identified during the investigation, which included;
IBAC found that the misuse of drugs and equipment by paramedics is posing a risk to the colleagues and patients of the drug affected, and the drug affected paramedics themselves.
While Ambulance Victoria and DHHS have accepted the recommendations of the report a number of questions remain including:
Â· what specifically has already been done by Ambulance Victoria to address the theft and use of drugs by paramedics, given they have known about it for nearly 2 years?
Â· the ability of AV to undertake random breath testing commenced from 1 January this year, why is the testing program only commencing now?
Â· Will the random testing of paramedics be for drugs and alcohol, or will alcohol be excluded, and what proportion of the workforce will be tested?
Â· What role has the Ambulance Employees Association’s opposition to random testing influenced the slow uptake of this testing policy?
Â· What public reporting will AV undertake regarding drug policies and testing outcomes to reassure Victorians about the safety of Victoria’s ambulance workforce?
Comments attributable to the Shadow Minister for Health Mary Wooldridge
“The vast majority of paramedics provide top notch care for sickest and most vulnerable Victorians.”
“AV’s commitment to implementing IBAC’s recommendation is welcome, but Victorian patients cannot wait up to 12 months for further information when there are many questions outstanding.”
“It is vital Ambulance Victoria publically reassure Victorians that they are safe in the hands of paramedics by regular reporting of details of the testing regime and controls in place.”