Agencies have formed a collaborative framework to tackle the health transport difficulties caused by the closure of State Highway 4.

A conference between Whanganui District Health Board (DHB), Whanganui Regional Health Network, Ruapehu District Council and St John was held on October 11 to set up a joint approach.

Whanganui DHB chief executive Russell Simpson reassured the public the agencies were working collectively and health services would be maintained.

A further meeting on Monday, also involving Fire and Emergency NZ and Ruapehu Health, led to positive discussions to ensure services continued.


St John territory manager Nigel Watson said that although transport times to Whanganui Hospital would now be longer, helicopter services would support the road ambulance crews and any patients in critical or serious condition could be airlifted to the hospital.

"The health shuttle will remain available to transport patients to Whanganui for non-urgent appointments. Ambulances work as a network to ensure emergency ambulances are available in the area as needed."

For safety reasons, St John will not use the Fields Track alternative route.

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said he welcomed the collaborative approach and all agencies had accepted the new arrangements would be long-term.

Ruapehu District Council has organised two public meetings for Thursday, October 17, at The Centre at the Baptist Church in Seddon Street, Raetihi, to update the community.

The first meeting is at 3pm and will be attended by the New Zealand Transport Agency, which is responsible for state highway maintenance. The second meeting is at 6pm.