Editorial: Efficiency initiative worthy exercise

In these challenging times, organisations are having to streamline the way they operate.

One of the latest in the Bay is St John Ambulance.

As reported in this paper yesterday, the ambulance service is looking at a new response system, under which specially trained paramedics in cars rather than ambulances will respond to low-priority calls.

The aim is to reduce the number of people being taken to hospital in ambulances, which are costly to run, and to reduce pressure on the emergency department.

Instead, these patients would be treated on site and book in to see their GP later if necessary.

A study examining 1000 cases in Kapiti during a 10-month period using this system showed a 30 per cent drop in the number of patients being taken to hospital.

This result has to be considered a success.

This system makes sense, given the financial strain St John has been under and the pressure on Tauranga Hospital's emergency department.

St John's difficulties became evident in March this year when the service revealed it was raising charges for medical callouts and jobs for accident-related injuries older than 24 hours.

St John is about 80 per cent funded by the Ministry of Health, ACC and district health boards.

The charity has to find the rest - some $17million a year - from the community and sick patients, which makes initiatives such as this latest one important.

There has also been much written about the pressure on the hospital's emergency department, which is being stretched to capacity by people with minor ailments choosing to go there instead of seeing their GP.

Hopefully, this initiative will work in the Western Bay like it has in Kapiti.

St John's move is to be applauded. I hope it acts as an inspiration for other organisations and companies looking to improve efficiency.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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