Royal Flying Doctor Service receives a new aircraft

A brand new aircraft will join WA’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The new addition to the Western Operations’ fleet was unveiled on Friday, February 16, 2018 .

The $7.9 million Pilatus PC-12 turboprop aircraft is fitted with aeromedical technology, to transport patients to hospitals throughout WA. 

The WA Health Department, who funded the new aircraft, have called on the Federal Government to increase spending on the RFDS in WA.

“Providing quality healthcare is a team effort and the successful partnership between WA Country Health Service and the RFDS is testament to this - but they can’t do it alone,” State Health minister Roger Cook said.  

“The State Government and Federal Government historically split the cost of funding the Royal Flying Doctor Service more or less equally.

“Upon coming to office, we discovered the Federal Government dramatically reduced its funding contribution.

“This is another case of Western Australia being short-changed on Commonwealth funding.

“The Federal Government must review its Commonwealth services funding allocation to reflect the 2.55 million square kilometres RFDS travels to service WA, rather than focusing on the number of journeys made in each State.”   

Mr Cook said due to the vast distances between some regional towns and their nearest hospital, air travel was often the only option for patients.

 A spokesperson for Rural Health minister Bridget McKenzie, said the Federal Government recognised the important role of the service in remote areas.

“The RFDS program aims to support people living in rural and remote Australia to deliver high quality and responsive health and medical services,” the spokesperson said.

“This is why we are providing up to $203 million over three years to 30 June 2018 for the RFDS to deliver services to rural and remote Australia.

“The Australian Government is working closely with the RFDS  regarding future funding arrangements, including from 1 July 2018.”

A WA RFDS spokesperson said whilst they were able to deliver adequate care, they had spoken to the Federal Government about additional funding to boost their capacity.

“We are in conversation with the Commonwealth about our funding needs,” the spokesperson said.

On average, RFDS aircrafts fly the equivalent of 200 times around the world and are decommissioned after 10 years, according to the WA Health Department. 

Royal Flying Doctors treated 8,330 patients in flight across WA in 2017.