Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a $56 million extension of CareFlight’s contract to provide doctors to transport sick patients in remote Queensland to major hospitals, ensuring outback families will continue to have access to high-quality medical facilities.
The current contract, due to expire in February next year, will be extended a further three years to 2019.
The Premier, who this week inspected drought-declared areas of western Queensland, said the provision of experienced doctors was an essential service for people in the bush.
“Last year alone, more than 4,000 sick people in outback Queensland were seen by CareFlight doctors. That’s more than 10 patients a day,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“People out west face a completely different set of circumstances to those in the city, and Queensland is such a large state that the distance to a hospital or even a doctor can be quite daunting.
“My government is committed to providing all Queenslanders with access to high-quality treatment, wherever they live.”
Health Minister Cameron Dick said the three year extension of CareFlight’s contract with Queensland Health would provide more stability in the provision of state wide retrieval medicine services.
“One of the big advantages of the CareFlight system is that they have their own doctors, whereas before this partnership existed 10 years ago, Emergency Medicine doctors were pulled from emergency rooms around the state to be flown out to major medical incidents,” Mr Dick said.
“This in turn placed a strain on the resources of the health system. But under CareFlight, doctors are recruited and trained specifically to provide critical care via an aviation platform.”
CareFlight provides world-leading retrieval medicine services and specialises in the recruitment, training and provision of front-line critical care doctors and medical support staff for air medical retrieval from nine locations across Queensland.
They were one of several groups funded last year to provide medical evacuation services along the Queensland coast. But today’s announcement specifically allows for the employment of experienced doctors.
CareFlight Retrieval Medicine Limited has had the state government contract to fly to remote areas to retrieve patients who require urgent care since 2004.