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Ambulance unions concern over St John Ambulance funding

Ambulance unions concern over St John Ambulance funding

NZAA/AWUNZ, the unions with the majority of ambulance officers in New Zealand, have today expressed their concerns at the delay in releasing short-term funding promised in the May Budget for the St John Ambulance Service.

Following a union briefing by management yesterday, the unions were advised St John is still waiting for confirmation of when the first stage of the promised funds will be received.

The growth and demand on the service has meant that the current funding model has fallen short of meeting the costs of providing the service that the taxpayers of NZ should be able to expect to continue without the uncertainty of funding, the unions said. The demands on the staff on a 24/7 basis are demanding enough without worrying about the potential for financial headwinds being insufficient funds to secure the wellbeing of the public. The service has been under pressure for some time and St John and the unions have made this clear to Government. The public are often confused as to why there are delays to services, while at the same time, the demands are exceeding the current financial model.

The unions’ spokespersons said officers who commit to the service, particularly new entrants, having spent in excess of $25,000 to secure degrees to be even eligible to apply, need to know that committing to serve the community through St John comes with a degree of security of employment.

The unions said it would be unacceptable to have to look at closing ambulance stations as a last resort and appreciates St John is committed to maintaining support in metro and rural stations but needs the Government’s support to preserve this crucial service.

NZAA and AWUNZ do not feel it is appropriate that the Government/Ministry of Health should be placing ambulance officers and the public in this predicament.

The unions said given St John and the unions’ efforts at engaging with the Government they remained optimistic the short term funding would be released before Christmas and hoped Government would take St John’s funding request seriously in the upcoming May budget.

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