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ChildFlight To Cease Operations

Media Statement 14 August, 2003
For immediate use

ChildFlight To Cease Operations

It is with great regret that the trustees of the ChildFlight Air Ambulance have today closed the country’s only specialist flying intensive care service, ChildFlight Trust Chairman Murray Bolton said today.

ChildFlight is a sister trust of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT).

The decision follows a High Court ruling last month confirming that the Department of Internal Affairs had the discretion to cancel the gaming licences at hotels owned by a subsidiary of the trusts if it chose to.

Last week the Air Rescue Foundation (ARF), the gaming trust which funds ChildFlight/ARHT, ceased all funding grants to ChildFlight because of the uncertainty over its future.

“We accept they had little choice but to stop funding ChildFlight. That in turn meant we as trustees had little choice but to close ChildFlight,” Mr Bolton said.

Staff were told this morning that the ChildFlight - Intensive Care by Air service was to cease operations immediately, and an application has been made to the High Court to appoint a liquidator.

Murray Bolton said the trustees would like to thank the ACC Minister Ruth Dyson and the Health Ministry and ACC officials who have been working to save ChildFlight.

“Their efforts over the last couple of weeks have been greatly appreciated, but in reality mask the real issue – the failure of the Department of Internal Affairs to even attempt to find a workable solution to the way ARHT/ChildFlight received money from gaming machines.

“They were given a hospital pass by the DIA. The DIA has always had the power in its hands to allow a workable solution to be found,” Mr Bolton said.

“We accepted the suggestion made by Justice Harrison in the High Court that there needed to be a negotiated solution to the issue of us owning hotels which housed gaming machines, the proceeds of which would ultimately go to ChildFlight and the rescue helicopter.

“ARHT/ChildFlight attempted in good faith to do this as far back as December last year before the hotel purchase was completed, but DIA refused to engage in any meaningful dialogue.

They must now be prepared to accept the consequences of their intransigence,” Mr Bolton said.

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust will not be affected by the closure of ChildFlight, and will continue its vital service to the 1.3 million people of the greater Auckland Region.

Last year the ChildFlight fixed wing carried 700 patients and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter rescued 600 people.


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