29/06/2022 - 09:34

Personal message from outgoing St John chief

29/06/2022 - 09:34


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Departing St John Ambulance boss Michelle Fyfe has posted a reflective message to all staff.

Personal message from outgoing St John chief
Outgoing St John Ambulance chief Michelle Fyfe send the personal message to all staff. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Outgoing St John Ambulance chief Michelle Fyfe has sent a personal message to all staff, after news broke she was parting ways with the service.

She had been planning on making her resignation public in coming days, but in the email explained how proud she has been to lead the organisation for more than four years.

"It is unfortunate that it broke in the media before the board and I had a chance to advise you personally," Ms Fyfe wrote.

"This was not the intention.

"This is quite a milestone for me and when milestones are reached, it is often a good time to reflect on achievements made and also cast the mind forward to what is next."

The pandemic and hospital ramping pressures on the service came to a head in May, when 80-year-old grandmother Georgina Wild died from a heart attack while waiting more than two hours for an ambulance to arrive.

There was also a parliamentary inquiry which recommended the ambulance service be taken over by the state government in five years unless changes were made to how it operates.

"I want to acknowledge and celebrate all of the hard work that has been done over the last few years as we have navigated this once in a lifetime pandemic and the growth in demand and pressure on ambulance services across the state," Ms Fyfe said.

"I think about the countless hours that I and you have committed to our community as we stretched ourselves to the limit and then some.

"One of my favourite sayings is 'do the right thing, even when you think no-one is looking'.

"This is important to me because it speaks to values and character."

Ms Fyfe was an assistant police commissioner before taking over at St John, and she reportedly applied for the commissioner's job being vacated by Chris Dawson next month.

She told staff this morning that St John, with its century-long service in WA, had a great story to tell.

"Even in troubled times we are trusted by our community," she said.

"This has been shaped by over 130 years of care.

"Our legacy is forged in the history of the state of Western Australia and the countless lives we have supported during this time.

"Every life has a story and every story matters dearly."

She accepted it was time for "fresh energy" to take St John forward.

"The last few years while having been incredibly satisfying and fulfilling, have also been very taxing," she said.

"I have missed many precious moments with my family, and I am now looking forward to some time off to spend with my husband, children and grandchildren before embarking on my next challenge."

The union which represents about half of WA's paramedics, the United Workers Union, described Ms Fyfe's departure as an "opportunity for ambulance services to be put on the right track".

For years, the union has argued for the government to take charge of providing an ambulance service.

“The recent parliamentary inquiry gives the WA government the foundations to bring the service in to government hands," said union coordinator Fiona Scalon. "The move by the government to take responsibility for operating ambulance services would mean the WA community is no longer at the whim of a private provider and its board, with the bottom line, sadly, as their primary priority."

Ms Scalon said under Ms Fyfe's watch the service had been "run into the ground" and there were "systemic problems".

Ms Fyfe thanked her leadership team and said before a new chief executive is appointed, St John's chief operating officer Antony Smithson will take over in two weeks.

"With a sombre but satisfied heart, thank you all for the opportunity to lead you," she said.


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