St John service facing change


Northland ambulance crews are in for a potential middle management shake-up that is aiming to improve the performance of the region's St John staff.

District operations manager for Northland, Wally Mitchell, said a proposed plan to introduce territory operation managers was yet to be finalised, but would be designed to improve the effectiveness of all ambulance crews.

"All moves are designed to help do our stuff better," he said.

Mr Mitchell said the national review of senior leadership group structure would not affect Northland frontline staff.

"It's business as usual up here," he said.

In a statement on Monday, St John operations director Michael Brooke confirmed nine senior roles were being reviewed.

As far as Mr Mitchell could tell, the changes to the regional operations based in Auckland would mean he would no longer report to a regional operations manager, but straight to a national operations director.

The new role of the proposed territory managers would be to oversee and liaise between a pocket of rural stations and the district operations manager.

Mr Mitchell said although it was not finalised, he believed the role would provide a bit more management over smaller groups of stations.

Mr Mitchell said he imagined there would be a number of territory managers in place for Northland if the proposal went ahead.

"I believe [the proposed changes] are good stepping stones to improving our overall performance."

He hoped all changes and developments within St John would ultimately lead to better structure and performance results.

"Over the last few years, there has been a growing trend in our workloads. We do get stretched," he said.

He cited the 4.5 per cent annual increase in 111 calls as a factor.

He said it was not practical to recruit enough staff to cover "worst-case-scenarios" but there were always contingencies in place to ensure extra staff could be called upon whenever a need arose.

The changes coincide with a new uniform for all St John staff as well as a potential rebranding of the ambulances.

A Herald investigation last year revealed the charitable organisation is losing $15 million a year. St John could not say how much the changes would cost but claimed it would lead to "long-term savings".

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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