AEROMEDICAL CONTRACT TAKES PATIENT CARE TO NEW HEIGHTS
Member for Lismore Thomas George today welcomed news of the contract signing with the preferred proponent to deliver helicopter retrieval services in the new Northern region.
The Northern region will be run by the Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd – an amalgamation of two well-known non-government organisations. This operator is already engaged in local aeromedical retrieval and will be tasked to perform patient retrieval from a newly constructed base at Lismore as well as bases at Newcastle and Tamworth.
“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government committed to reforming the state’s aeromedical services to benefit patients and ensure faster response times no matter where you live in NSW,” Mr George said.
“Today’s announcement shows we are getting on with the job of delivering a safe and sustainable aeromedical service for the community.”
The new Helicopter Retrieval Network will be operational in 2017 to allow a smooth transition of services. It is the one of largest tenders of its kind in the world.
Mr George said the new Retrieval Network will also implement a new standardised helicopter, streamlining the aircraft used across the state.
“Lismore will be home to a new helicopter – the larger Augusta Westland 139 - which is capable of transporting medical retrieval teams, including those for sick babies and children, faster and further than ever before.
“This means more coverage for the region and capacity to transport a wider range of patients,” Mr George said.
The finalisation of the contract follows an extensive tender process undertaken by the NSW Government as part of its Reform Plan for Aeromedical (Rotary Wing) Retrieval Services in NSW.
The tender recommendations were reviewed and endorsed by a Procurement Governance Committee chaired by Dr Peter Sharley, an independent emergency service clinician from South Australia.
Mr George said he was pleased to see Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd,, the preferred proponent, successful in its tender bid.
“This operator provides an incredible service to our community and I’m very happy to see this will continue and their capabilities will be enhanced for the benefit of local patients.
“The reform plan has already delivered 24-7 coverage for our region which has been vital to the delivery of swift care for patients as well additional doctors and paramedics to take flight with the helicopters.”
North Coast MPs Don Page (Ballina), Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Andrew Fraser (Coffs Harbour) and Geoff Provest (Tweed) welcomed the announcement of the contract signing.
Mr Page said: “The community is right behind the Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd and we are incredibly grateful for the care and support the team provides. It is an important thread in the fabric of our community and I’m pleased it will continue to deliver its life-saving work.”
Mr Gulaptis said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is committed to ensuring rural and regional communities have access to world-class health services when and where they need it most.”
Mr Provest said: “Our aeromedical helicopters are more than just transportation aircraft – they are mobile emergency departments in the sky, providing high-level, quality care to very sick patients.”
Mr Fraser said: “This new Helicopter Retrieval Network will deliver a modern, flexible and effective helicopter fleet to deliver the best care for babies, children and adults and it will give more local paramedics and doctors the ability to get to patients faster than ever before.”
Other key highlights of the new Helicopter Retrieval Network include:
- For the first time in NSW, a team of a doctor and paramedic or doctor and nurse will be on every patient retrieval flight from every base across the Helicopter Retrieval Network;
- Patients will receive faster emergency care with bases operating 24/7 including Lismore, which allows aircraft to respond to emergencies up to 30 minutes faster;
- The NSW Government has fulfilled its commitment to employ an additional 11.5 FTE retrieval doctors and18 new FTE paramedics to enhance the service;
- Funding of $151.2 million from the NSW Government for the new Network;
- The Reform Plan guarantees that the Helicopter Retrieval Network can meet the growing demand for retrieval missions in NSW.
There will be further progress of the reform, including medical crewing, in 2015.
For further information about the Helicopter Retrieval Network, please visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/helicoptertender