Paramedics Australasia (New Zealand) – the independent professional body representing paramedics in New Zealand and Australia – joins with St John and the ambulance unions in calling for increased funding and double crewing of all ambulances in New Zealand.

Paramedics Australasia (New Zealand) Chair Sean Thompson says “the single crewing of ambulances poses a huge risk to both patients and paramedics.”
“Patients are placed at risk. The paramedic should be treating and monitoring the patient in the back of the ambulance but a single-crewed paramedic frequently has no option but to drive the patient to hospital. In such situations paramedics may call for back-up but due to distance and under-staffing such back-up may not be available. ”

Mr Thompson says that single-crewed paramedics are placed at risk. “The situations paramedics go into and the patients they attend are often unpredictable, especially where alcohol is involved. Assaults against paramedics are increasing in New Zealand and lone paramedics are particularly vulnerable.”
Ambulance services in New Zealand are not-for-profit organisations. Both St John Ambulance and Wellington Free Ambulance rely on donations to top up funding from the Ministry of Health and ACC.

“It is unacceptable that a frontline emergency service is operated in this way” says Mr Thompson. “The New Zealand Fire Service is fully funded through insurance levies. The New Zealand Police is fully funded by the taxpayer. New Zealand ambulance services, whose job it is to save lives, are run as charities and rely on donations to operate. They are understaffed and rely on a huge team of dedicated volunteers to support their paid staff. This would not be acceptable in any other Western country and should not be acceptable in New Zealand.”

Paramedics Australasia (New Zealand) calls on the government to urgently review funding of ambulance services to ensure that all New Zealanders receive the same high standard of care when faced with an emergency, and to protect the lives of the paramedics who provide that care.

For further information contact:
Sean Thompson (Chair – Paramedics Australasia New Zealand) sean.thompson@paramedics.org.nz
Ph 0274 939 603