Double crewing for road ambulances

The government has announced plans to double crew all road ambulances. File photo.

This year's budget will include an additional investment of $59.2 million over four years to ensure all road ambulance call outs are double crewed.

St John has welcomed the news, saying the end of single crewing is the most significant development in their ambulance service history.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the government is focused on getting patients the care they need when they need it.

“Our ambulance services have a key role to play in this,” he says.

“Double crewing all road ambulance call outs will help ensure patients are provided with the best care possible, as well as support the safety and wellbeing of our dedicated paramedic workforce.”

St John chief executive Peter Bradley says it means they will be able to recruit 430 frontline jobs over four years.

“We'll be able to provide rural New Zealand with the same crewing levels as urban areas – a move that will save more lives and make it safer for out crews.

“It will also give us the chance to promote from within, and for a large number of out volunteer ambulance officers to become paid staff.”

However, NZ First leader Winston Peters has slammed the government's announcement as a ‘limp' response after years of neglect.

“To be blunt, National has allowed patients to suffer, perhaps die, by failing to heed the calls for more funding for St John and other services,” says Winston.

“Their announcement of 375 extra medical personnel will be welcomed only because ambulance services are desperate.”

He believes National has ‘cynically ignored' needs right up until election year.

“They have the nerve after nine years to announce a funding model that is not completed until 2021 which, on their record, by that time will be obsolete.

“Our ambulances only get 70 per cent government funding, so have to beg from the public for more. They are running at losses. St John had a staggering $7m plus deficit in 2015, it has been sending out ambulances with only one crew member and has been warning the government for years that more funding is needed, as did the parliamentary select committee nine years ago.”

If elected, he says New Zealand First would also ensure all ambulances were double crewed.


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