21 Aug 2014

Ambulances receive $9.2m boost

4:28 pm on 21 August 2014

St John will hire dozens of extra front-line staff and cut single-crewed ambulances because of an ACC funding boost, but a union for paramedics is worried about some of the roles the money will pay for.

St John Ambulance

St John Ambulance Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

ACC is giving another $9.2 million to the country's ambulance services for emergency treatment.

It will bring the total emergency ambulance funding from the corporation to $63.1 million. St John is getting most of the rise - $7.5 million - and the money will shift to a bulk-funding model.

At the moment ambulance services invoice ACC for each accident-related injury when they take a patient to hospital. The change to bulk funding will match the model used with money from the Ministry of Health which covers medical emergencies.

St John's chief executive, Peter Bradley, said the extra money would contribute to 158 new workers and be its biggest intake.

"The key here is about improving our staff safety so that we don't have single-crewed ambulances travelling around New Zealand, and also improving response times in those high priority areas so we can get an ambulance to those patients who've got a life-threatening emergency as quickly as possible - and 158 additional ambulance staff will make a difference in that regard," he said.

Paramedics Lisa Charman and Tony Hohepa at work in Tauranga.

St John paramedics Lisa Charman and Tony Hohepa at work in Tauranga. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

But there are some questions about St John's plans to introduce 16 so-called Emergency Medical Assistants. EMAs will be paid front-line roles and rostered on as a second crew member to work alongside paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians.

Neil Chapman, from First Union, says it will be asking questions about the roles today.

"We believe it will basically be what's known as a first response qualification which currently stands at three days of tuition, as opposed to Emergency Medical Technicians which is the entry level if you like for ambulance response work and we have concerns about whether that application is the best-suited model for an emergency response. We think that there needs to be a lot more discussion about the use and purpose of the model," he said.

The new ACC funding starts on 1 December and St John wants the new staff in place by July 2015.

How the 158 new staff will be funded

  • 82 funded through the new $9.2m of ACC funding which covers personal injuries
  • 19 from $1.3m of increased funding from the Ministry of Health for medical emergencies
  • 57 workers will be funded by St John through its own fundraising and commercial activities

Where the staff will go

  • Alexandra 2
  • Auckland 27
  • Christchurch 20
  • Dunedin 2
  • Fielding 2
  • Gisborne 2
  • Hamilton 6
  • Huntly 2
  • Kawerau 1
  • Levin 2
  • Mosgiel 2
  • Mount Maunganui 4
  • Napier 3
  • New Plymouth 4
  • Ngaruawahia 2
  • Ohakune 2
  • Otorohanga 1
  • Pahiatua 2
  • Palmerston North 5
  • Picton 1
  • Pukekohe 2
  • Rangiora 4
  • Rotorua 4
  • Tauranga 2
  • Te Awamutu 2
  • Te Kuiti 1
  • Temuka 2
  • Turangi 1
  • Waihi 2
  • Waipukurau 2
  • Wairoa 2
  • Wanaka 1
  • Whangamata 1
  • Whangarei 2
  • Whitianga 1

There will also be additional relief staff to provide relief in Auckland / Whangarei / Waihi / Whangamata / Whitianga (11) Central North Island (16) South Island (10).

Wellington Free Ambulance 'could have done with more'

Wellington Free Ambulance says it will spend the bulk of its new government funding on paramedics it has recently employed.

Wellington Free's executive manager for service delivery Andy Long said the service could have done with more.

"We always need more money. We still have to, and will still continue to have to, fundraise to bridge the gap between government funding and the cost of delivering an emergency ambulance service."

Mr Long said the rise in funding would bring their total allocation from the government to $6.5 million per year.

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