Ambulance service asking 60 people to settle their bills

ST JOHN Ambulance is chasing about 60 people to pay for ambulance services, after they failed to settle their bills after more than three months.

The news comes as St John is reminding islanders that ambulances are not free in Guernsey and encouraged people to sign up to the ambulance subscription service.

People who are not with the service and do not have adequate health insurance are charged an average of £371 for an emergency ambulance.

The charity has written to the individuals who owe money for ambulance responses on three previous occasions and has offered them the chance to set up a payment plan if they are unable to pay the lump sum.

Chief financial officer Stuart Brennan said St John could not 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,’ he said.

‘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.’

He said that some people did not realise ambulances were not free in Guernsey.

‘Unfortunately, some people simply refuse to pay for one reason or another,’ he said.

Picture by Sophie Rabey. 14-10-20. .St Johns Ambulance is chasing about 60 people to pay outstanding bills for ambulance services. Chief financial officer Stuart Brennan.. (28802742)

‘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 frontline 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 60 people the service are trying to speak to are just from 2020 and mostly are from about six months ago.

Mr Brennan said they would take people to the Petty Debts court if they did not pay.

He added that with the Covid-19 situation, the service was taking a more focused response in getting unpaid bills settled, as the pandemic was likely to lead to increased costs.

A proportion of the ambulance cost is covered by the States of Guernsey, with St John, as a charity, making up the remainder of the costs through the subscription scheme or charges.

The subscription service entitles islanders to unlimited free emergency ambulance responses and assessment and treatment by qualified clinicians for members.

A new website is being set up, so islanders will soon be able to update their details and subscription online.

n The Ambulance Subscription Scheme costs £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 10 non-emergency ambulance transfers for a medical appointment under the direction of a health care professional.

The subscription scheme for island residents runs from January to December, but can be taken out at any time in the year.

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