The ambulance at the bottom of the list

A St John Ambulance

The St John Ambulance Service has probably fallen right off the bottom of the government’s list of budget priorities. Why should they bother when the public have stumped up year after year to meet the shortfall?

But the government had absolutely no hesitation in committing to gun law reform expenditure even before knowing what it would cost to compensate gun owners. It was after all, a political point scoring priority following Christchurch.

In contrast, the government has been dragging its heels in fully funding the essential St John Ambulance services. Quote.

It is a ridiculous situation. St John CEO Peter Bradley kicked off this week’s [December 2018] annual appeal by saying he hopes it will be the last. The service is making a case to be fully state funded by asking for $350m over four years.? End of quote.

Nearly every New Zealander will use St John Ambulance services at some point in their life. Quote.

St John provides ambulance services to nearly 90 per cent of New Zealanders and responds to more than 476,000 incidents every year, according to its media information, yet only 72 per cent of its funding is allocated by the government, through Ministry of Health and ACC contracts.? End of quote.

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What are we paying taxes for, if it?s not healthcare? Quote.

The other 28 per cent, which adds up to about $65 million, comes from charging for services and fundraising. In other words, some life-or-death situations in New Zealand rely on the turnouts for cake stalls and mufti days.End of quote.

Winston Peters?s latest estimate is that $300 million is needed for gun compensation. He based this on the Australian experience, but costs could go up because the government really has no idea how many guns need to be handed in under its new law. Regardless, funding was never raised as an issue in the decision making.

So why is the paltry $65 million to fully fund essential services beyond the government’s capability of inclusion in their annual budget?

In the meantime, emergency services deteriorate. Struggling to stay afloat means St John can?t afford to pay their staff properly and are losing them overseas. Quote.

New Zealand had some of the lowest-paid ambulance staff in the developed world, Abbott said.

Looking at the qualifications and hours they have to work, they’re paid well below other developed countries,” Abbott said.

The starting rate is below $20 dollars an hour. If recognition payments for night and weekend work are factored into this, many ambulance professionals would have to be on or below the minimum wage.”

Crew members often ended up working overtime as unpaid “volunteers” to cope with being understaffed, Abbott said.? End of quote.

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You can only rely on goodwill as a short term stopgap. Eventually, people give up and go elsewhere.

In this country what are the chances of dying by terrorist gun attack compared to dying because the St John Ambulance Services can’t get to you because they are unable to supply a full contingent of trained staff to man their vehicles?

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