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St John welcomes commitment to the future of ambulance services

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

St John is pleased with today’s news that emergency ambulance services will receive a helping hand in this year’s budget while work is undertaken to develop a sustainable, long-term funding model.

This one-off boost of $21 million over two years provides some certainty and relief for St John and Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA) as they work through the detail of what future funding arrangements will look like with the Ministry of Health and ACC.

"It sends a strong signal that Government has listened to our serious concerns and wants to support the growing demand on our services and the valuable skills and innovation we provide," says St John Chief Executive Peter Bradley.

"St John is a real success story. Our paramedics, clinicians and 111 call handlers consistently provide a high-quality service to New Zealanders and play an increasingly important and unique role in the wider health system. We deal with more complex conditions and decision making, using a wide range of clinical pathways and prehospital care.

This non-recurring budget uplift will relieve some of the immediate pressures St John is facing like moving its 111 Clinical Control Centre people out of a leaky building and into a fit for purpose space. It means the service can recover, and continue to pay, the costs associated with extra frontline paramedics in Christchurch (recruited in February) and they can now increase frontline paramedic numbers in Auckland.

Mr Bradley says these first steps towards addressing an antiquated funding model are positive and he is optimistic they signal emergency ambulance services moving closer to the funding support experienced by other essential services like Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand and District Health Boards.

One thing that won’t change right now is St John’s charity status and it will still need the support of New Zealanders through donations and part charges for ambulance services.

"We’ll still need to fundraise for about 28 per cent of our costs and will continue to rely on the generosity of New Zealanders to maintain services until the much-needed overhaul of the existing funding arrangements," says Mr Bradley.

St John and WFA will submit their full funding request - off the back of their initial bid last December - to Government by the end of this year.

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