Future-proofing air ambulance services

Budget 2018 will deliver safer, more modern and better resourced air ambulance services, says Health Minister Dr David Clark.

“We owe it to our communities to ensure that dedicated air ambulance staff and providers have the right tools for the job and are part of a well-coordinated national service,” says David Clark.

The average age of the current fleet of air ambulance helicopters is 29 years, and a third are single-engine. Moving over time to twin-engine helicopters will reduce the risk of accidents and help meet stricter aviation requirements.

“Our current air ambulance service has done a great job, but demand has risen and there are now more stringent aviation and clinical requirements. It is time to renew our helicopter fleet and ensure we deliver a consistently high level of service, with better patient outcomes nationwide.

“New health investment of $60.0 million operating funds over four years (as well as an additional $22.9 million from ACC) will be used to strengthen existing service levels and begin a programme of modernisation.

“We know that air ambulances are valued and supported by local communities around New Zealand – with local fundraising playing a major part in keeping these services in the air. That local involvement will have greater transparency in future, and the Government is increasing its share of the support it provides.

“The new system aims to get an appropriate air ambulance to the scene as quickly as, or more quickly than, in the past. This will mean better care for the patient, particularly during transport. New contracts are expected to be in place later this year.

“No one ever wants to need the services of an air ambulance – but when they do, they deserve a modern, well-equipped service no matter where they live,” says David Clark.