$38m boost for WA's RFDS

28 Jul, 2008 12:39 PM
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Premier Alan Carpenter announced a much needed addition of $38 million to the Royal Flying Doctor Service funding package.

The additional amount will bring the total of the state government's funding to the RDFS to more than $144 million over the next five years, and will foresee the expansion of its aircraft fleet and an increase in staff.

"That money will provide five new aircraft, three replacement aircraft and two additional aircraft and $24 million to support that recurrent service," Mr Carpenter said.

Although the initial request for funding was $68 million, Mr Carpenter said his government had been in negotiations with the RFDS for some time and had come up with an appropriate amount that will allow the service to be provided at an adequate standard.

"We recognise the Royal Flying Doctors Service is an absolutely critical service to the delivery of health care in a state like Western Australia," he said. "And the Royal Flying Doctors Service has been and is under financial pressure in trying to deliver that service."

The RFDS operates from five operating centres in Derby, Port Hedland, Meekatharra, Kalgoorlie and Perth, and consists of up to 25 doctors, 30 nurses, 30 pilots, and 12 operation centre staff.

"I'm very grateful to the people from the Royal Flying Doctors Service," he said.

"It is critical to the provision of health services to people who live outside of the metropolitan area."

On average, the RFDS evacuates 6,000 patients per year across WA, with around 20 per cent of these patients from remote locations who do not have access to health services.

"This is the first time that a state government has actually provided money for the direct purchase of new aircraft," he said.

"We're also looking at a new way we deal with funding pressures in the Royal Flying Doctors Service so that we have an ongoing monitoring service that we can respond to in a more timely way and a more responsible way."

CEO of the RFDS Tim Shackleton said the announcement of the additional funding was a significant day for the RFDS, and that the state government's additional funding to the service would allow them to provide better services for people in the bush.

"This is a great deal for the RFDS," Mr Shackleton said. "It'll enable us to employ additional nurses, doctors and pilots and it'll enable us to bring in two additional aircraft into the fleet."

"That will greatly assist us in the way of providing services to people in the bush."

When asked if the announcement of the funding was just another political stunt before the next election, Mr Carpenter said the state government had reviewed the funding and was intent on delivering it to the RFDS for some time.

"We know for sure that the pressure on the RFDS will continue to grow as the state grows," Mr Carpenter said, "And we want to be as a state government, partners that allow that service to meet the demand."

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