Today New Zealand First made a pledge to campaign at the election to fund St John Ambulance the 90 per cent it has asked for. Government funding would allow St. John’s to achieve fully funded status.
Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters publicly declared his determination to deliver St John the 90 per cent it sought.
Currently the emergency ambulance service is 71 per cent funded by the Government with the rest made-up from part charges, community donations and sponsorship arrangements.
Mr Peters said he has listened to St John’s pleas.
Mr Peters said, “St John plays a critical role in our country’s health system and overall viability, particularly is provincial and rural New Zealand.
“We know ambulance services are in high demand and this is only increasing.
“I have heard the concerns raised by St Johns about the long-term sustainability of their current funding model.
“Last year working with our Coalition partners, the Government was able to provide a one-off injection of $21 million dollars to help St John and Wellington Free Ambulance to relieve immediate pressures.
“Now we will strive to do everything in our power following the election to deliver a secure path for their future,” said Mr Peters.
Mr Peters’ pledge was made earlier today at a ceremonial event to mark one of the ways St John spent its portion of the $21 million coalition funding -- delivering a desperately needed new 111 emergency call and dispatch centre.
To mark the occasion Mr Peters took a sledge hammer to the wall for the demolition of the existing, dilapidated call centre.
There are more than half a million calls made to 111 every year for an ambulance, with call numbers increasing by more than four per cent annually.
Callers can receive timely care and support from paramedics and nurses over the phone.
St John is utilising an existing building on site for the call centre move (which will be earthquake strengthened), saving approximately $10 million in building costs.