Board seeks regular patient transfers

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 10:45 28/03/2014

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Nelson Marlborough District Health Board want a timetabled inter-hospital patient transport service.

Discussions with ambulance provider St John have centred on a daily return service for the clinical transfer of patients between Nelson and Wairau hospitals.

Previous talks looked at the possibility of the board providing their own ambulance. However, the board said the South Island contract is for inter-hospital transfers and St John is the only provider that offers safe transfer of patients between hospitals.

Board chief executive Chris Fleming said a daily return service between the hospitals would give patients certainty.

"Current staffing by St John for a service between our two hospitals is haphazard, as acute provision takes priority," he said. "This does not give our specialist certainty for patient transfers. The board requires a seven-day-a-week return service between Wairau and Nelson for patients with the ability to know they will travel at a certain time."

Mr Fleming said the transfers would not require an acute ambulance and he is investigating the cost of a non-acute ambulance.

St John transfers from Wairau to Nelson Hospital decreased from 79 in 2009 to 68 in 2013.

St John operations director James McMeekin said the only option was a timetabled patient transfer service.

Health officials have been looking at the times of operation, the qualifications of ambulance personnel required and the frequency of jobs.

"This is a step in the right direction for a more co-ordinated service with the district health board," he said.

Mr McMeeking would not comment on whether the service would require additional volunteers or paid staff. He said the service, if given the go-ahead, would be funded by the district health board.

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- The Marlborough Express

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