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St John welcomes Health Committee recommendations

St John media release, 18 July 2008

St John welcomes Health Committee ambulance sector recommendations

St John welcomes the release today of the parliamentary Health Committee’s recommendations on the provision of ambulance services in New Zealand.

St John Chief Executive Jaimes Wood says many of the recommendations reflect the recommendations in the St John submission to the Health Committee “We are delighted to see so many of our recommendations taken up. We appreciate the Health Committee bringing new public focus to the needs of the ambulance sector,” Mr Wood says.

“We have been in discussions with Crown funding agencies for a number of years on many of these initiatives, and stand ready to continue our work in partnership with the government to progress these recommendations,” Mr Wood says.

St John is currently contributing to government work on an Ambulance Strategy for New Zealand. “We are delighted the government is undertaking this forward planning - and value the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health and ACC,” Mr Wood says.

Mr Wood highlights that St John does not agree with the comment in the Health Committee media release that the provision of ambulance services in New Zealand is ‘voluntary and ad hoc’. “St John prides itself on providing a thoroughly professional and well organised service,” Mr Wood says. We have invited every member of the Health Committee to review our services in person and it is disappointing to see this comment.

St John welcomes the Health Committee double crewing recommendations. “The St John position has always been that emergency ambulances should be fully crewed wherever possible,” Mr Wood says. Eighty-two per cent of St John ambulance responses are currently double crewed. Mr Wood notes that crewing levels have significant funding implications.

A number of the Health Committee recommendations are already in place or underway at St John, including:

- St John and the New Zealand Fire Service have a very close working relationship and two Memoranda of Understanding, signed in 2005 and 2007 (which include co-response arrangements and an agreement to seek opportunities to share facilities)

- St John has national clinical standards, overseen by our national Medical Director, Clinical Management Group and Clinical Governance Committee

- We are working with the other ambulance services with a view to implementing a single operations competency framework based on the St John framework

- We are developing St John-led, sector-wide initiatives in clinical education including scoping a national ambulance school.

St John is New Zealand’s largest ambulance provider, servicing more than 85% of the country’s population and more than 95% of the geography. We have high levels of collaboration with the other ambulance providers – Wellington Free Ambulance, and the Wairarapa and Taranaki District Health Board ambulance services.

ENDS


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