St John welcomes Government funding boost

Victoria Hawkins |

St John welcomes today’s news that more than $100 million will be included in this year’s budget to provide double crewing of all emergency ambulance responses over the next four years.

The package also introduces a new sustainable funding model to increase St John’s baseline funding and to meet growing demand for ambulance services while addressing historic shortfalls. 

“Ending single crewing is one of the most significant developments in our ambulance service history,” says Chief Executive Peter Bradley. “We will be able to recruit 430 frontline jobs over four years and provide rural New Zealand with the same crewing levels as urban areas – a move that will save more lives and make it safer for our crews.”

“It will also give us the chance to promote from within and for a large number of our volunteer ambulance officers to become paid staff.”

Mr Bradley says the funding shows the Government’s commitment to ambulance services and recognises St John’s unique role in the New Zealand health system.  “It means we’ll be in a better position to meet the growing demand for emergency primary care and community health services.”

While 375 of these roles will address single crewing, the remaining roles will be to deal with current and future increases in demand.

He says phasing out single-crewed emergency ambulances has been a priority for several years, and the new funding model means St John can now plan for it with certainty.

“It will take time to gear up and implement, and the first step is reviewing each station across the country.  One size does not fit all and we’ll be talking with local communities and our people on the ground to find the best approach in each area.”

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

“We’ll still need to fund more than 25 per cent of our costs through donations and will continue to rely on the generosity of New Zealanders to maintain services and continue improving.”




  • St John provides emergency ambulance services to nearly 90% of New Zealanders and covers 97% of the country’s geographical area
  • St John treated and/or transported 437,978 patients in the last financial year (end June 2016)
  • 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 have been funding just under 70% of the operating costs for the ambulance service.  The remaining 30% has been funded through emergency ambulance part charges, fundraising and revenue from commercial activities such as first aid training and medical alarms.  St John’s fundraising and commercial activities also support the organisation’s charitable community programmes.  

 How St John is funded for Ambulance Services



 Click here to view the distribution map.

What’s Changing


Current State April 2017

Future State 2021

  • 91% full crewing
  •  100% full crewing
  •  35,849 single crewed responses (May 2016-April 2017)
  •  Zero single crewed responses
  • 4,321 ambulance personnel (2,512 rural)

-        1,168 paid ambulance staff

-        3,153 ambulance volunteers

  • 4,702* ambulance personnel (2,888 rural)

-        1,588 paid ambulance staff (up 420 plus 10 Clinical Control Centre staff, 430 up in total )

-        3,114 ambulance volunteers

*NB 39 volunteer positions have been absorbed into full-time paid roles

 For further information:

Victoria Hawkins
St John Acting Head of Communications

T 09 526 0528 ext 7877
M 021 605 342



Noreen Hegarty
St John Media & Public Relations Advisor

T 09 526 0528 ext 8095 
M 027 809 2058




Questions and Answers

What are the advantages of double crewing?

Double crewing will benefit patients, especially in rural areas where it means they will receive clinical care while they’re being driven to hospital – something that couldn’t be done with single crewing. It will make the job safer for our ambulance officers and help reduce fatigue, manual handling injuries and stress. New Zealand is the only first world ambulance service with single crewed ambulance responses – we currently do this 100 times a day across the country.

Are rural communities the biggest winners here?
The additional government investment means that within four years, we’ll have the same level of service across all our areas. At the moment, most rural areas have some form of single crewed emergency transporting ambulances. We’ve wanted to address this for some time and the new funding means rural communities will soon have the same crewing levels available as in urban areas – a move that will improve safety and save lives.

Why is it taking four years to end single crewing?
It’s important we get this right. The first step is reviewing our delivery model station by station and we’ll get input from our own people and local communities to make sure we get the best configuration of services in each area. It will also take time to recruit and train the extra 430 people and the staggered funding recognises that it will be a four year job.

Will St John still need to fundraise for donations?
St John is and will always remain a charity. We’ve always worked closely with our communities and rely on the generosity of the public, both for donations and volunteers. The increased funding allows us to phase out single crewing and meet expected growth in demand, but St John will still need to fund about 25 per cent of its costs through donations, income from part charges and commercial activities like medical alarms to maintain current services. That figure’s currently about $54 million but will grow steadily as the service expands and in five years, we’ll be looking to raise close to $70 million a year above the funding from government to maintain services and programmes.

Will the number of ambulance stations change?
There will be changes as we introduce 430 trained ambulance staff and replace single crewed ambulance responses with double crewed transporting responses. What that will look like is what we will be discussing with staff and local communities. We expect the number of stations to stay about the same and that’s part of the detail we’ll be working on next.

Why the reduction in volunteer numbers?
We expect the number of volunteers to remain about the same though, on paper, some positions could be absorbed into the paid work force. It takes many volunteers to cover the equivalent of one full time ambulance officer. As we train and employ more permanent ambulance officers, we’ll need fewer volunteers to cover those roles. We hope many of our current volunteers will apply for those permanent paid roles and we’ll also need more than 1,400 volunteers to crew an increase in First Response Units.

Where will the extra ambulance officers be deployed?
The location and the timing of the deployment is what we need to turn our attention to now. Initial panning suggests the district distribution shared on the next page in map diagram form. We’ll consult with staff and our communities to find the best fit and mix.

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