St John looks to recover overdue ambulance payments

St John is reminding islanders of the benefits of the Ambulance Subscription Scheme which includes unlimited free emergency ambulance responses and assessment and treatment by qualified clinicians for members.

Ambulances in Guernsey are not free and while a proportion of the cost is covered by the States of Guernsey, St John as a charity has to make up the remainder of the costs through the subscription scheme or charges. Anyone who isn’t a member of the subscription scheme and who doesn’t have adequate health insurance will be charged on average £371 for an emergency ambulance.

The reminder comes as St John is looking to ensure it provides the most cost effective & high quality service. Unfortunately St John is looking to recover outstanding unpaid Ambulance journey invoices from people who have not settled their bills for more than 180 days.

The charity has written to the individuals who owe money for ambulance responses on three previous occasions and has offered those people the chance to set-up a payment plan if they are unable to pay the lump sum, but Stuart Brennan, Chief Financial Officer says St John can’t afford to write off unpaid debts and is urging those who are in arrears to settle before further action is taken.

“It is important that St John recovers what it is owed for the services it provides. The organisation takes a more reasonable and lenient approach than most other companies and we have taken every effort to contact those people who have not settled their accounts, to give them all the opportunity to make payments. As part of the process we have reviewed the cases of everyone who has long overdue bills and anyone who is considered vulnerable or has genuine reasons for not being able to pay has been removed from this process. If someone has a legitimate reason which we are not aware of I would encourage them to contact us to discuss their individual case.”

Mr Brennan added “Some people may not realise that ambulances in Guernsey are not free and unfortunately some people simply refuse to pay for one reason or another. The simplest way to avoid the full cost of an ambulance is to take out an annual subscription. We would like to remind islanders that we save the taxpayer costs on running our front- line Ambulance service by looking to find alternative fair funding measures, we have also been conducting an exercise to keep our annual costs as low as possible whilst ensuring we still provide the top quality level of care that any patient would expect.”

The Ambulance Subscription Scheme* costs just £35 a year for a single person under 65. Child membership is £13. The annual cost for a family is £83. People over 65 pay £30. The subscription scheme also covers up to ten non-emergency ambulance transfers for a medical appointment under the direction of a Health Care Professional.

The cost of an emergency ambulance response is on average £371 plus additional charges for specialist treatment by a paramedic.

The subscription scheme for island residents runs from January to December, but can be taken out at any time in the year. Renewal letters for existing members and new joiners information is due to be sent out in October. A separate scheme operates for visitors.

Guernsey’s emergency ambulance service has been operated by the St John Guernsey charity since 1938. St John has a contract with the Health & Social Care Committee of the States of Guernsey to provide the road ambulance service. The contract does not cover the full cost of the ambulance service which is why the charity needs to raise revenue from other sources. St John is actively committed to HSC’s Partnership of Purpose vision.

In addition to the emergency ambulance service, St John also provides the marine ambulance, first aid training and a wide range of community services including event first aid, youth sections and Community First Responder scheme.

*please note the figures quoted for ambulance subscription and charges are the current figures for 2020.