New Zealand Ambulance Association was founded in Whanganui 2004 by a small group of ambulance officers that feared the country was going to grow into the 20th century with an emergency ambulance service only able to provide third world care due to every ambulance being crewed with only one person. In a short period of time this group had grown to encompass the Manawatu and Horowhenua. This group became very vocal, supported by Ken Mair and the Maori party of the day, slowly evolving, with its first major stride forward being the NZAA presentation to Government of the 2006 White Paper on sustainable funding (specifically focussed around the single crewing issue). While this was loudly applauded by those in the health fraternity, it took until 2016 to gain any real traction. By this time the New Zealand Ambulance Association, referred to as “the NZAA”, had spread across the North Island, taking in members from Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Wairoa and East Cape. Fast forward to January 2021, NZAA is present in every North Island district and even some in the South Island.
In 2004 the Ministry of Health tabled a report: Ambulance Services Sustainable Funding Review. This report identified fragmented, disorganised groups of operators who were providing a range of services with no clear direction on clinical standards. These ranged from District Health Board-driven initiatives to those instituted by St John Area Committees. The funding of these initiatives was also fragmented and the report identified that the levels of funding were appropriate for the provision of the required services.
Since then emergency ambulance services across New Zealand have consolidated into two organisations, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance. Also since then there have been multiple independent reports on ambulance funding levels and requirements, all identifying extensive shortfalls that have impacted on the ability to provide appropriate services, leading to compromised clinical care. This has been compounded by both organisations developing clinical pathways and providing extended clinical care and medications outside what was historically seen to be, and funded as, emergency care; this necessitating increased education for the evolving scopes of practice for the ambulance clinicians. All combined, it has contributed to a rapid increase in costs and shortfalls in funding levels. Despite this being evidenced to successive Governments, increased funding for emergency ambulance services has been slow coming. NZAA has been proactive in this area, contributing to the multiple reviews, supporting both organisational and public initiatives to raise the profile of ambulance and its funding struggles across all areas of New Zealand.
In June 2021 New Zealand should at last finally attain that vision of those first NZAA officers in Whanganui of reaching the goal of having two officers in every emergency ambulance across all communities in New Zealand.
Mission and Goals
The New Zealand Ambulance Association's mission is to strive for the best possible ambulance care for the people of New Zealand.
The NZAA is committed to helping its members provide quality pre hospital care in a safe working environment.
The NZAA represents ambulance officers and Communication Centres' staff in employment negotiations and over industry and employment matters.