St John ambulance charges to rise

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 12:48 24/03/2014

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St John emergency ambulance patient part-charges will increase from $84 to $88 in Marlborough due to increasing service demand. The increase will come into effect on April 1 and is a flat rate across the South Island. The extra money will go towards funding running costs, St John said.

There has been an increase in demand for St John services. In Marlborough emergency call outs rose from 3212 in 2010 to 3643 last year. An increase in the aged population and chronic health conditions of age including cardiac issues, obesity related conditions and respiratory-related issues have been contributory factors.

St John charges a part-charge to patients who are treated by an ambulance officer or who are transported in an ambulance, because of a medical emergency - even if someone else calls the ambulance for you.

The part-charge is also applicable if you have an accident-related injury that is more than 24 hours old or injuries that do not meet Accident Compensation Corporation criteria.

St John ambulance services are not fully government funded. Contracts with the Ministry of Health, ACC and District Health Boards fund less than 80 per cent of ambulance service direct operating costs.

St John's communication advisor for the South Island Ian Henderson said patient part-charges are a "necessary and important contribution" towards the shortfall in ambulance service funds.

In January private hire charges increased. For hospital transfers in non-emergency private hire ambulance transport to or from a private address, Wairau Hospital or discharge from hospital, charges are based on the distance travelled.

Those travelling 35km or less are charged $200. Between 36 and 100km clients must pay a rate of $5.66 per km and between 101 and 400kms, a charge of $6.21 per km. To travel more than 400kms there is a charge of $7.52 per km.

St John operate a discounted rate of 50 per cent for charitable trusts providing palliative care including Hospice Marlborough.

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- The Marlborough Express

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