Ambulance travels from Auckland to Christchurch to carry patient weighing over 300kg
An ambulance was driven from Auckland to Christchurch to take a patient weighing more than 300 kilograms home from hospital.
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) will not reveal the cost of the recent trip, citing "commercial sensitivity", but says it is the only time in three years a special ambulance transfer has been required.
St John Canterbury operations manager Dion Rosario said the specialised ambulance was needed for the patient's safety.
He would not discuss specifics, but it is understood the patient weighed more than 320kg.
"From time to time, patient needs do require certain specialised equipment and St John meets those needs as required . . . for this case, St John did bring down a specialised vehicle from Auckland."
According to the Ministry of Health, almost one in three adults and one in 10 children are obese.
Hospitals have adapted, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment for obese patients, including larger wheelchairs and beds.
Rosario said Christchurch's St John had nine ambulances with a special stretcher system that could carry patients weighing up to 318kg. They were among 43 being rolled out nationally and had become the standard.
The special stretcher helped prevent staff from suffering lifting injuries. A fully-equipped new ambulance cost more than $180,000, he said.
"These new ambulances will handle a large proportion of St John's bariatric needs," he said.
"We're adapting our ambulance fleet to meet the needs of New Zealanders . . . this is great for the public and . . . our ambulance staff."
The CDHB spokeswoman said revealing the cost of transferring the ambulance from Auckland to Christchurch could "prejudice future negotiations with St John or other providers, as effectively it would be a public declaration of a market rate".