Inquiry: ambulance services in desperate situation
8 July 2008
Inquiry shows ambulance services in desperate situation
New Zealand's ambulance service is underfunded, under-staffed, lacks strategic direction, regulatory oversight or national clinical standards, and relies too heavily on volunteers, the Green Party's minority report says.
The Health Select Committee's report on New Zealand's ambulance service was released today, accompanied by the minority report from the Green Party.
"Frankly, New Zealand's ambulance services are in a desperate situation," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.
"A major overhaul of the way ambulance services in New Zealand are operated, and a substantial injection of new funding, is urgently needed to bring the operation of the service to a safe standard.
"Ambulance officers are frontline health professionals, and should be treated as such. It is time to question why an essential emergency service has been contracted out to a number of charitable organizations which are reliant on the availability of volunteers, and doing their best on limited funds.
"The service is fragmented, there is a lack of any overall strategic direction, and a heavy reliance on volunteers.
"Astonishingly, there are no national clinical standards for this important front line health service, or even any national training programme for ambulance officers. These factors are seriously undermining the service and posing a risk to the safety of those who depend on it. "The Green Party is alarmed at the number of emergencies being responded to by single crewed ambulances, and the lack of trained ambulance paramedics in many areas.
"This places a huge strain on ambulance officers and puts lives at risk. No ambulance officer should have to choose between treating a patient and driving the ambulance to the hospital.
"Ensuring ambulances responding to emergencies have two officers on board should be a top priority, along with training of advanced paramedics, to we have the expertise to provide at the safe service."