Staff would rather focus on saving lives than raising funds - St John

Financial pain relief, for the country's cash-strapped ambulance services..  

The Government's handed the country's ambulance services a $38 million lifeline in a pre-budget announcement. 

However, ambulance staff say they'd rather focus on saving lives than raising funds.

"We want to make sure that people get treated better in their homes and in their communities [and] that we address some of the rural communities that aren't getting some of the services that they need," an ambulance worker told Newshub.

While the lifeline falls short of what's been asked for, the Deputy Prime Minister is suggesting big changes to the funding model could be on the cards. 

Minister of Health David Clark told Newshub: "We want to give them the confidence and we want to give New Zealanders the confidence that we take seriously their concerns about funding."

Thirty-eight million has been set aside in the budget for St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.

As Newshub reported on Tuesday, $21 million will be given as 'one off' funds and $17.2 million will go towards operational costs over the next four years.

But the real focus is on a long-term funding fix.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Newshub: "I am very confident that we can look forward to a day, not very far from now, where 95 percent of the needs of St Johns are being funded from central Government."

The government currently covers nearly three-quarters of the budget for StJohn, the country's largest ambulance service. It has to fundraise the rest - about $65 million a year. 

St John New Zealand CEO Peter Bradley is hoping today's announcement is just the start.

"We are optimistic this will be sorted out and hopefully a big announcement in the 2020 budget," Bradley said.

The services have more than half a million calls a year and ambulances are sent on 440,000 callouts.

The Health Minister says the services deserve better funding but the Government needs more time to make a full decision.