Nearly a quarter of people invoiced for St John ambulance
treatment aren't paying - leaving the emergency service
millions of dollars out of pocket.
St John treats 400,000 patients each year and about 185,000
callouts result in an invoice for a part charge. New
Zealanders are charged $75 or $84 depending on the region.
Non-eligible visitors to the country are invoiced for $769.
But 23 per cent don't pay.
St John operations director Michael Brooke says there are
"Sometimes we don't have the information on where or who to
bill; or we have incorrect or incomplete information; some
people can't pay because of financial hardship; and some
That's despite a survey last year showing most people think a
part charge is fair and realistic. Just 21 per cent of those
surveyed said they would not be happy to receive a bill for a
According to St John figures, the service wrote off bad debts
of $2.9m for the financial year 2011-12. Brooke says that
amount would cover the cost of operating three frontline
ambulances around the clock with two crew for a year.
Brooke says the part charges are a necessary and important
contribution to St John, a charity that is not fully
- Herald on Sunday