St John staff could walk off job despite Government giving ambulance services $21m

Ambulance staff could walk off the job even though the Government has stumped up with $21 million for New Zealand's ambulance services.

The allocation over two years is a temporary response to calls for ambulance services to be fully funded.

"We heard the concerns raised by St John and Wellington Free Ambulance about their funding model," said Winston Peters, New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister. 

However St John now has a growing internal dispute, with the First Union demanding today's cash go to staff wages.     

"Workers are saying to St John, 'Pass it on. This is our money, we fought for it, we won it'," said Sarah Stone of First Union.

A seven-month pay dispute has seen low level action by ambulance staff, including refusal to wear uniforms and not billing patients. 

That's now expected to ramp up, with a source telling 1 NEWS it could include walking off the job.

St John says a significant pay increase cannot be made until after a significant Government budget commitment.

1 NEWS revealed exclusively last night that the $21 million budget allocation is a lot less than full funding.

"Our budget bid is near $400 million over four years. So if you think about getting $21 million over two versus $400 million over four it gives you a sense of the scale of that," said Peter Bradley, St John chief executive.

It'll see the relocation of St John's busiest call centre, and new staff in Christchurch and Auckland. 

Paramedic Hannah Macleod said: "We're really focusing a lot more on urgent community care and trying to keep people out of hospital as well. So it's not just chucking them in the back of the ambulance anymore and driving to hospital."

But National is calling it a band aid solution. 

"St Johns and the core emergency services have to rely on sausage sizzles at supermarkets while this is meant to be a wellbeing Government. Where's the wellbeing?" said Simon Bridges, National leader.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government knows that there is an issue around long-term sustainability of ambulance services.

"It is a quirk of our system that they are only partially funded." 

A review is underway to help develop a long-term funding model.

Health Minister David Clark said this is "a serious piece of work, we won't be rushing it".

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1 NEWS has learned an internal dispute over where the money should be spent could see ambulance officers strike. Source: 1 NEWS