Ambulance services in New Zealand are badly underfunded

What the Ministry of Health called "significant crown funding" in 2004 (Ambulance Services Sustainable Funding Review) is actually a miserly $32 per capita.

This compares poorly with every single other ambulance service used for comparison in the 2005 PriceWaterHouseCoopers review of NSW ambulance funding models.

This is the lowest level of central government funding of any ambulance service in the report.

London Ambulance Service: $55 per capita
British Columbia, Canada: $57 per capita
Australia: Victoria $65, Queensland $73 and South Australia $62.
In New Zealand this shortfall is expected to be made up by volunteer efforts and donations.

Despite the best efforts of volunteers and donors, this gap cannot be properly bridged without increased government funding.

Underfunding results in over-stretched ambulance services, widespread single crewing, uneven clinical standards and education, and a workforce that will remain mostly unregistered even after registering ILS and ALS paramedics.

NZAA calls for a major increase in ambulance funding to enable the following:

  • A single national ambulance service
  • Full crewing of all frontline (EAS) ambulances
  • Standardised, high quality, relevant clinical and operational education.
  • Transparent and consistent application of clinical standards.
  • Registration of ambulance officers under the HPCA Act 2003
  • A strong clinical presence in ambulance communication centres

The 2009 Ambulance Strategy was a step in the right direction, but promising 100 new paramedics goes only part way to addressing the shortfall of 700 - 800 paramedics needed nation wide to enable full crewing and adequate ambulance coverage.