High-resolution photos available here.
Rural Kiwis will still get less care than big cities after today’s ambulance funding announcement, says YesWeCare.nz.
The Government announced an extra 430 St John Ambulance staff over the next four years at a press conference today.
The new staffing will include around 300 new unqualified “Emergency Care Assistants” (EMA).
YesWeCare.nz put up 200 life-sized cut-outs of missing qualified ambulance officers and health workers outside the press conference.
The coalition’s campaign coordinator Simon Oosterman says each cut-out represent 100 workers missing due to $1.85b in health underfunding.
“Extra staff for assisted-single crewing is a very late step in the right direction,” he says. “But it is dishonest for the Government to say rural Kiwis will finally get the same care as big cities already get.”
Mr Oosterman says provincial New Zealand deserves two medically-qualified officers which a 2008 Government inquiry recommended.
The EMA is “essentially” a driver with advanced first aid training, he says.
“Unqualified assistants can’t provide the necessary clinical care required in critical life-saving intervention and incidents with two or more patients, such as a high-speed vehicle accident or a complicated pregnancy,” he says. “The Government only needs to fund an extra $4.5m to upgrade the 300 unqualified assistants to be qualified officers.”
Government “fudging” definition of “double-crewing”
Oosterman says the Government is fudging the definition of “double-crewing”.
The 2008 Select Committee inquiry into ambulance services defines “double-crewing” as two qualified ambulance officers.
Oosterman says “assisted single-crewing” is where an unqualified assistant works with a qualified ambulance officer.
“While assisted single-crewing is much better than single-crewing, it doesn’t provide the same level of patient care.”
The coalition is challenging the Government’s claim that the extra staffing will end single-crewing as earlier statements by St John said it needed more than 545 to do so.
YesWeCare.nz is a coalition of community groups and people working in health seeking a fully-funded health system.
FIRST Union, which represents ambulance officers, is a member of the coalition.
For photos or interview, please contact YesWeCare.nz campaign coordinator Simon Oosterman on 027 526 8704