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Northern NSW : Spring 2013
Doctors set scene for larger contract The communities that support this essential service could not be more pleased by the news from the NSW Minister for Health that doctors and paramedics are to be an integral part of their aeromedical retrieval system. The Minister, the Hon. Jillian Skinner, responded quickly to recommendations that doctors and paramedics be located permanently at both our bases saying that it was important the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service was well resourced to meet the demands of the future. Having doctors on board our missions has been a goal for some time as the Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, pointed out to media representatives when he visited the base for the announcement (see feature story in this edition). He and other MPs from our regions have done much to ensure our on-going capabilities. The recommendation for doctors was part of the wider review of aeromedical services in NSW which will require a single provider each for the southern and northern halves of the State. We have been fortunate to fly with paramedics under existing arrangements. Your Service Board Members and management team set about preparing for such a future a few years ago recognising that an even better aeromedical link in the healthcare chain would be required. The geographical nature of our regions with the mix of beaches, rural land, mining areas and cities, towns and villages dictated to our communities long ago that cost effective and efficient aeromedical retrieval was vital for our well- being. The recent celebration of 30 years of continued support from the mining sector, which also features in this edition of Rescue, helps to illustrate this point. The most significant challenge the Service has ever faced, beyond the delivery of service to the community, is the preparation for and winning of the new contract for northern NSW. We are preparing thoroughly and believe we will provide the Minister with every reason to be confident that the contract can be awarded. Richard Jones General Manager Aeromedical service setting higher standards The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service will now deliver more to people in need of assistance in both the Hunter and New England -- North West regions following funding announcements by the NSW Minister for Health. Doctors will now be stationed at both the Tamworth and Broadmeadow bases to accompany the flight crew on every mission after the NSW Government pledged $4.8 million for the Hunter and $2 million for New England -- North West. Service General Manager, Richard Jones, said the funding for the provision of doctors was welcomed by the thousands of people in the regions who support and donate to the Service. "This partnership with the community is widely regarded as a benchmark and the Minister's announcements today of funding and allocation of doctors and paramedics for our missions strengthens our capability to serve those in need." Mr Jones said that the Service was preparing to tender for expected contracts that will require coverage for all of northern NSW. "We have always worked closely with the NSW Department of Health and with Ambulance NSW to attain the ever increasing standards needed in health related systems and while our crews have been flying more than 1,200 missions a year, part of the organisation has been preparing for the new contract." Mr Jones said the Service Board was pleased to see so many of the comments it submitted to the review of rotary aeromedical services reflected in the Minister's announcements. "We are disappointed that winching operations will not be continued for our New England-North West Service at this stage and we will continue to work with the Government on how best to maintain our capability," Mr Jones said. Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service - Rescue Spring 2013 Page 3