St John welcomes coalition government's commitment to the future of ambulance services


St John is pleased with today’s news that emergency ambulance services will receive a helping hand in this year’s budget while work is undertaken to develop a sustainable, long-term funding model.

 This one-off boost of $21 million over two years provides some certainty and relief for St John and Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA) as they work through the detail of what future funding arrangements will look like with the Ministry of Health and ACC.

 “It sends a strong signal that Government has listened to our serious concerns and wants to support the growing demand on our services and the valuable skills and innovation we provide,” says St John Chief Executive Peter Bradley. 

 “St John is a real success story. Our paramedics, clinicians and 111 call handlers consistently provide a high-quality service to New Zealanders and play an increasingly important and unique role in the wider health system.  We deal with more complex conditions and decision making, using a wide range of clinical pathways and prehospital care.

 This non-recurring budget uplift will relieve some of the immediate pressures St John is facing like moving its 111 Clinical Control Centre people out of a leaky building and into a fit for purpose space.  It means the service can recover, and continue to pay, the costs associated with extra frontline paramedics in Christchurch (recruited in February) and they can now increase frontline paramedic numbers in Auckland.

 Mr Bradley says these first steps towards addressing an antiquated funding model are positive and he is optimistic they signal emergency ambulance services moving closer to the funding support experienced by other essential services like Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand and District Health Boards.

 One thing that won’t change right now is St John’s charity status and it will still need the support of New Zealanders through donations and part charges for ambulance services. 

 “We’ll still need to fundraise for about 28 per cent of our costs and will continue to rely on the generosity of New Zealanders to maintain services until the much-needed overhaul of the existing funding arrangements,” says Mr Bradley.

 St John and WFA will submit their full funding request - off the back of their initial bid last December - to Government by the end of this year.


  • St John provides emergency ambulance services to nearly 90% of New Zealanders and covers 97% of the country’s geographical area (while Wellington Free Ambulance covers the Wellington and Wairarapa regions)
  • St John received more than 530,000 calls into our 111 emergency Control Centres and treated and/or transported almost 500,000 patients in the last financial year (end June 2018)
  • St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff
  • St John has contracts with Ministry of Health and ACC who fund approximately 72% of the operating costs for the ambulance service.  The remaining 28% is funded through emergency ambulance part charges, fundraising and donations.  St John’s fundraising and commercial activities also support the organisation’s charitable community programmes.
  • It will cost $240 million to run the emergency ambulance service in the year to June 2019 of which the Government provides $170 million, leaving St John with a gap of about $70 million.  The charity attempts to bridge this shortfall through third party contracts, ambulance part charges and donations. 
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