Top jobs to go in St John overhaul

By Andrew Koubaridis, Jared Savage

St John last night confirmed nine senior roles were being reviewed. Photo / File
St John last night confirmed nine senior roles were being reviewed. Photo / File

A number of senior management at St John will lose their jobs in a huge shake-up of the under-pressure ambulance service which will also include a new uniform and possibly new vehicle livery.

The job losses and uncertainty come as the service grapples with increasing numbers of 111 calls and as it tries to stem the loss of millions of dollars a year.

St John last night confirmed nine senior roles were being reviewed but insisted frontline operations would not be affected.

The sweeping changes are being driven by new chief executive Peter Bradley who is understood to be introducing a structure similar to the London Ambulance Service - the busiest in the world - he ran before returning to New Zealand last year.

It coincides with a rebranding exercise which will see St John staff wearing a new uniform by the end of the year, also understood to be similar to London paramedics'.

Mr Bradley is also considering a move to repaint all the ambulances, which would cost millions of dollars at a time when the organisation is struggling financially.

In a statement yesterday, St John operations director Michael Brooke said the organisation had been reviewing its national operations senior leadership group structure and the district operations management structure in Auckland.

"St John is reviewing a total of nine positions and potentially creating five positions that report to the operations director and one district operations manager in Auckland. This is so that our resources can be consistently managed nationally and lead to a better service delivery," Mr Brooke said.

The changes were needed to "take the organisation forward" in a challenging environment but he said it would not affect the numbers of frontline ambulance officers.

The new uniform would be rolled out by the end of the year and is the first such change since 2001. St John would not say how much the changes would cost but claimed it would lead to "long-term savings".

Mr Brooke said a final decision about changes to branding had not been made. Asked how that cost - estimated to be millions of dollars - could be justified he said: "We are always looking at ways to improve visibility and safety of our fleet for our staff and patients."

A Herald investigation last year revealed the charitable organisation is losing $15 million a year.

The number of 111 calls is rising by about 4.5 per cent a year, partly driven by increasing numbers of elderly people with chronic illnesses. Last year a record 337,000 callouts were recorded at a time when response times to 111 calls, particularly in urban areas, have deteriorated.

A trial was supposed to begin soon of a new "Fire-Ambulance" unit in response to increasing numbers of people calling 111 to ask for help from firefighters because it is quicker. But St John could not say last night when the new vehicle would be introduced.

The Herald has learned that the three regional operations manager positions will be replaced by one role.

This means senior staff will be re-applying for the sole position to report directly to the national operations director. It is understood the three district operations managers in Auckland will also have to reapply for one position.

Changing face of St John

*Nine senior jobs under review.
*New uniforms.
*New ambulance livery under consideration.
*Losing $15 million a year.
*Battling increasing 111 calls.

- NZ Herald

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