Media Statement re Resourcing

Victoria Hawkins |

St John would like to respond to recent claims that the organisation is “resource-starved” and “putting lives at risk”.

This is not an accurate portrayal of St John and the vital emergency ambulance service it provides. St John takes the safety and well-being of both its patients and personnel very seriously and has worked to create a modern ambulance service.

As demand for our services has increased – our ambulance communication centres received over 380,000 111 emergency calls last year, an increase of over 14,000 calls on the previous years - St John has introduced a number of initiatives to ensure we meet that demand:

  • In August 2012 we introduced a new response system allowing us to get to the sickest patients fastest. Last year we achieved a 10.5% reduction in the time it takes to get to an urban immediately life threatening incident.
  • Last year St John completed detailed analysis to understand how its ambulance resources (vehicles and rostered personnel) matched with actual patient demand.   This identified the need to fill resources gaps and make a number of staff roster changes – work which is currently underway with the recruitment of 57 additional staff (and a half million dollar investment in a volunteer sustainability strategy). 
  • We are trialling new ways of managing low-acuity patients including medically-equipped cars and clinical telephone advice. A pilot has been running in Canterbury is about to start in Auckland where low acuity calls are triaged by nurses and paramedics so that patients can access the right services for their needs, freeing up ambulance resources for  high-acuity patients.
  • Our ambulance communications centres and dispatchers are constantly monitoring, managing and moving resources, linking the resource to the need.

These are all patient-centred initiatives aimed at supporting communities.

It is incorrect to claim there have been no resourcing changes in Hamilton for decades. Eddie Jackson, General Manager of Central Region says twenty years ago Hamilton had two ambulances with a third vehicle on call (which also supported the surrounding areas). “Today we have a second ambulance station at Chartwell, three full-time ambulances, two separate patient transfer service vehicles and two rapid response vehicles.  We also have regular support from vehicles in the wider Waikato area - particularly Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Cambridge and Te Awamutu.”

Hamilton has been a region of rapid growth and St John recognises the need for additional staffing due to the increase in demand.

Of the additional 57 staff being recruited, two will be based permanently in Hamilton as of early May. 

“We can always do with more resourcing and are always looking for more volunteers and paid staff.  There will always be peaks and troughs and in times of high demand it’s more sensible to move ambulances around,” says Mr Jackson.

St John would like to further clarify that there is not - and was not – a ban on single crewing in Hamilton or other districts. St John is supportive of its frontline staff and their safety is paramount. Single crewing is never a choice but a necessity.

St John hopes this statement ends any confusion over resourcing issues and St John’s ability to respond to emergencies. We wish to reassure the public that our service and level of care is robust.

 

-ENDS-

St John Spokesperson: Eddie Jackson, Central Region General Manager

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Victoria Hawkins

St John Media Relations Manager

T 09 526 0528 I X 7877 I F 09 526 0553 | M 021 605 342

E Victoria.Hawkins@stjohn.org.nz

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