Ambulance calls go south

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014

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Taranaki ambulances will soon be dispatched from a Christchurch call centre.

St John announced the shake-up yesterday and said the changes would have no negative impact on patient care.

However, in 2007 when the Taranaki ambulance call centre closed and switched to a centralised dispatch in Wellington, the complaints rolled in.

Patients reported extended waits for ambulances, call centre staff who couldn't find the address the person was calling from and ambulances being sent to the wrong street.

St John took over the running of the Taranaki ambulance service from the Taranaki District Health Board in 2011 and said there would not be a repeat of the same issues.

Lee Brooks, St John assistant operations director of clinical control services, said the call centre change would take place next month.

St John and Wellington Free Ambulance jointly run the central communications centre in Wellington as part of a single, national network.

"We are working together and changing our process so that 111 calls from the Taranaki area will be dispatched from the St John-managed Christchurch Clinical Control Centre rather than the Wellington centre," he said.

"This change will in no way impact on our patients."

He said the decision to move had been made because call pressures and staffing numbers fluctuated in different locations and at different times of the year.

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