Auckland, September 18, 2018
A St John Reports shows a burgeoning need for coordinated, free or very-low-cost health transport services at a national level to support New Zealand’s ageing population.
St John Director of Community Health Services Sarah Manley said that St John is making a significant impact in communities served by its health shuttles, but is calling for more support from other NGO’s and Government to improve equity of access into the future.
The Social Impact Report surveyed 117 clients by phone, 53 face to face, plus 226 volunteers, staff and health providers.
“In the 2017 calendar year, St John invested $2.76 million for providing 54 health shuttles on the road, completing almost 75,000 client trips.
“46% of clients said that they had no other option to get to their health appointments. That’s tens of thousands of GP visits, therapy appointments and scheduled surgeries that otherwise wouldn’t happen, or would present financial challenges to patients and their families,” Ms Manley said.
“St John is proud to provide this service and we thank our 600 plus volunteers putting in more than 61,000 volunteer hours who make this happen. This service improves accessibility, independence, and most importantly improves health outcomes in our communities,” she added.
Ms Manley said that the Report identifies a significant opportunity in the health transport space for service providers and Government to come together to form a strategy for the future.
St John is calling for a national symposium on community transport to take place within the next two years to discuss the future needs, challenges, and ideas to continue improving social and health equity by developing new services in areas of need.
Ms Manley said that other areas of focus should include remote and rural areas, improving social connectedness, consistent delivery models and ‘by Māori for Māori’ health shuttle services.
For health shuttle client Mark and his wife, in their 80s, “the service is a lifeline.”
Clients say that the service is easy, that they have made friends, feel safe, and it is the only way for them to get to their appointments.
“If we didn’t exist, whose responsibility would it be? No single agency owns the community transport issue or takes responsibility for resolving it. We transport hundreds of people every week and save tax payers a lot of money. Centralisation of services drives the need for community transport, especially for our rural communities.”
St John intends to take the conversation to Parliament with an event to promote the Social Impact Report in November. The report is available online here.
About the Shuttle
St John Health Shuttle service began in Hamilton in 1991, growing to 34 locations thus far in 2018. It is run by local volunteers, community funded, open to all and donation/koha is requested.