Major changes to 111 callouts planned
Wed, 12 Sep 2012 8:03a.m.
By 3 News online staff
Major changes will be made to the way ambulances respond to 111 calls, in an effort to stem St John’s unsustainable operating losses.
Emergency calls will be graded according to their urgency, with non-urgent cases including abdominal and back pain, headaches, assaults, falls, allergies, and animal bites, reports the New Zealand Herald.
St John will no longer send a double-crewed ambulance to such calls, which will instead be attended by a single officer in a car or referred to a general practitioner or other health care provider.
The service’s operations manager Michael Brooke says 10 to 15 percent of all emergency calls are non-urgent, and changing the way they are handled will help stem St John’s $15 million-a-year operating loss, which has nearly doubled in the last five years.
Mr Brooke says a lot of people who call 111 don’t need to be transported to hospital, but emphasises that the changes won’t deny people treatment.
“We’re not trying to cut back at all. We’re trying to be smarter, and do things in a better way,” he says.
“At the moment, we send a big white truck with two people in it. That means an ambulance is tied up.”
The new system will be trialled in Christchurch next month, before being introduced throughout the country.
Some initial changes to the priority-allocation method were made three weeks ago, which Mr Brooke says are already seeing ambulances respond faster to time-critical cases. He says St John is seeing a 4.5 percent increase in demand each year, and the changes are needed to ensure it runs as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“Arguably, St John should have done this some years ago.”
But he says the new system will only buy St John another two years of operating under current funding levels, before response times start getting worse.
The organisation is 80 percent funded by the Ministry of Health and the Accident Compensation Corporation, which together provided $223 million in the 2010/11 financial year.
A ministry spokesman told the Herald that no significant funding increases are planned.
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11/12/2012 11:16:36 a.m.
It is clear there are some fundamental issues with this streamlining approach when a stroke victim is treated as non-urgent. My father waited for over 35 minutes and my mother pretty much told to harden up. Voluntary or not, this is not the level of service of care we expect from such a respected organisation.
12/09/2012 5:32:00 p.m.
@ Jan... the fire service is mostly made up of volunteers mostly of whom have jobs with good employers who allow them to go when their required so it would be ridiculous to expect them to take up the slack... remember... there volunteers so they don't get paid!
12/09/2012 2:20:59 p.m.
we dont want the trial in akl, it will be the same ole story, our wokrload will only ever go up and st john continue to not cover all the urban ambulances....due to budgets not people!. yes we get smashed on the frontline but more ambulances on the road or the ones that are meant to be on are covered will go along way to helping. And for the person Aiden, your the reason we are smashed due to your comments and not taking charge of your own medical problems threw normal channels.
12/09/2012 1:53:28 p.m.
Most people do not call this service unless it's a life or death situation; St John needs to put their costs up and charge more per call out.
12/09/2012 12:10:17 p.m.
@Diva, yours is exactly the sort of ignorance that causes St Johns problems. They don't have to come to you at all - they are a voluntary service, not your personal chauffeur. You want to know why it costs $250m? Have a look at the cost of maintaining a fleet of vehicles, providing a 24x7 call centre, the cost of maintaining buildings, buying equipment, then chasing up the selfish idiots who don't pay. Then the cost of insurance to protect themselves from the selfish like you. St John's is such a great service, but totally wasted 15% of the time when idiots ring up for selfish, idiotic purposes. Your attitude is probably making most St John's employees and volunteers raise their eyes to the heavens, and quite frankly I think it is too good for you.
12/09/2012 11:26:14 a.m.
I would rather the wasted money paid to Treaty claimants go into funding this service that all use. Maybe Maori Treaty recipients would like to help out with some dollars?
12/09/2012 10:34:30 a.m.
Jan you do. My father needed to go from the GP to the hospital a few years ago suspected heart attack, cost $80. you can also become a member of st john with a $50 donation which makes any ambulance rides free
12/09/2012 10:22:52 a.m.
Allergies, assaults, falls, abdominal and back issues...are all "non-urgent" are they? Wait till the first person who is having a severe allergic reaction to something dies and THEN you will be in trouble. Why does it cost over $250million to run a year? And yes, you do get charged for being taken to hospital, it might be a call out fee, not entirely sure for cases being treated in-situ.
I would love to know where the 111 operators are getting their psychic training from..or are they all natural mind readers via a phone???
Ambos do such a wonderful job, they are often abused, not thanked, and now they will really cop abuse - esp dangerous with them being alone in an often volatile situation, which is extremely unfair. If I have to call an ambulance to transport my son to hospital due to me having to work on him and not being able to drive at the same time, as I have had to do in the past, and I get passed off onto a non-urgent service, I will take you to court. I promise you that St John's. You are now mucking around with peoples lives. Yes, there are many, idiotic time wasters, THEY should be made to pay a min $200 fee. Do not forget that there are alot of people, esp elderly, who only call 111 AFTER they are nearly critical because they "don't like to make a fuss"...and don't forget blokes who are having heart attacks and end up being 'tough guys', only asking for help at the last minute, or those about to have a stroke, massive, dangerous migraines, etc etc...THEY are the ones who are more likely to shrug off the 'handling' and not pursue it...with tragic consequences I bet. You are playing with fire St John. Try testing it in South Auckland instead of Christchurch. You can NOT judge how well this will do - or not- based on a one month trial in a city that is not overcrowded and likely has the least amount of time-wasting 111 calls. To do so is irresponsible and out of touch with reality. God help anyone who needs 111 now... I hope the 111 operators will be getting a massive pay rise for the extreme, god-like responsibility you are lumping on them???
12/09/2012 10:17:15 a.m.
bit of a sad day when St Johns has to "cut back" but nothing wrong with being more efficient.
12/09/2012 9:27:39 a.m.
Do like the idea of it becoming more efficient, but never having to use or know of anyone using the service, I thought you had to pay when you get treatment from them, or is it just if you get taken to hospital?. Like to point out the fire service can take up some of the slack anyway since they are fire rescue and all have had some basic live saving training and some even have defibrilators. So if you are not getting treatment, then start a fire so at least someone will turn up, but cops also turn up to fires so you will probably get charged.
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