Jobs go in St John restructuring

Three management positions in the South Island will be lost in a nationwide management restructuring by St John, saving the organisation more than $250,000.

From July 1, St John's seven administrative districts in the South Island will shrink to four.

The Nelson-Marlborough District will join the West Coast and be renamed the Tasman District.

A similar review has taken place in the North Island, reducing the number of districts from 13 to 10, with those changes also scheduled for July 1.

The new St John districts in the South Island will be Tasman, Christchurch, Waitaki and Southland Lakes.

The old districts were Nelson-Marlborough, West Coast, Christchurch, Canterbury, Coastal Otago, Southland and Central Otago.

The restructuring has resulted in the departure of Nelson Marlborough district operations manager Barry Howell, who spent his last day in the role on Friday. Mr Howell has been in charge of the Nelson-Marlborough district for six years and has worked with St John for 39 years.

He will be replaced by James McMeekin, who now works for the Wellington Free Ambulance Service.

Mr Howell said he had been offered a new role in St John, but had decided not to accept it, because he wanted to remain based in Nelson.

He would continue to work with St John on its event management side.

St John South Island general manager David Thomas said the restructuring was at senior management level and affected only three jobs.

The way St John delivered its front-line services would not be affected.

"The community should see no change in our service delivery."

The change would be "cost beneficial" and allow St John to reinvest in front-line services. "This will save in excess of quarter of a million dollars."

The main reason for the changes was that as a charity, St John needed to be prudent and focus its spending on the delivery of health services.

Mr Thomas said the managers of the new districts would focus on building strong relationships with district health boards and primary health organisations to provide "integrated health care solutions to the population".

For example, St John had trialled a shuttle service between Wairau Hospital and Nelson Hospital. While that service had been discontinued, it showed how St John was trying to look at innovative ways to provide patients with high-quality access to health.

Mr Thomas said St John had a 6.6 per cent increase in demand each year, with a growing ageing population and a not-unlimited health budget to support that.

St John was also going through an "ambulance transformation programme". This would look at how it responded to calls for ambulance care, which included the 111 system.

That was still being worked on and would be delivered within months.

Mr Howell said his new roles included some consultancy work.

He would also be working with Canberra-based Aspen Medical, which provided intensive-care services to the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police.

His first deployment would be to Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

He said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time as district operations manager for the Nelson Marlborough region and was proud of the service provided in the region.

The Nelson Mail