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Rotorua/Taupo to be included in helicopter services process

Rotorua and Taupo to be included in rescue helicopter services process

Rotorua and Taupo will now be able to take part in proposals for future air ambulance services following a meeting today between Health Minister David Clark, mayors and district health board representatives.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick described the meeting as “very productive” and says the communities’ views were shared and heard.

There are currently 11 rescue helicopters operating in the North Island, including in Rotorua and Taupo. The Ministry of Health, ACC and district health boards, through the National Ambulance Sector Office, are proposing a nationally integrated and consistent service across the country and have issued a “request for proposals”. The proposal did not include Rotorua or Taupo but Mayor Chadwick says Minister Clark is enabling the two districts to tender to be part of the future service.
“It was very good today to be able to share the community perspective, which came through loud and clear at the public meeting on Saturday. The community is anxious and Minister Clark says he does not want that.”

Mayor Chadwick, Taupo Mayor David Trewavas, Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron, Lakes District Health Board chair Deryck Shaw, Lakes District Health Board clinician and board member Dr Johan Morreau and Phillips Rescue Helicopter Service founder John Funnell met with the minister for more than an hour today [Monday 23 April]. Officials from the Ministry of Health and ACC, and MPs from New Zealand First and Labour also attended.

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“Rotorua and Taupo are now part of the process so that is wonderful news. There’s more work to be done now and there are more conversations to be had but it was a very productive meeting,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“We certainly got our point across that this has not been an inclusive process and the Minister apologised quite fulsomely and affirmed he was open for us [Rotorua and Taupo] to be involved so that was excellent news.”

Today’s meeting confirmed that the desired outcome nationally was an integrated air ambulance service that would bring efficient, better outcomes for communities, Mayor Chadwick says.

Asked if she had today received the assurances she had been seeking on behalf of the community, she said “at this stage we couldn’t ask for more – but we’re not there yet, not at all”.

The Minister could not give a definite assurance rescue helicopters would still be based in Rotorua and Taupo in future.

“He can’t do that because of the process that needs to happen. The big thing for us today was that we’re included where before we were excluded. We didn’t argue today about where things should be based, agreeing we should be looking at any tender from an outcomes basis and ensuring it meets the standards set out in the Regional Trauma Plan. The district health board will be leading that work.

“Whatever happens, it’s absolutely vital that the level of service to our communities is not reduced,” Mayor Chadwick says.

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