Rescue helicopter farce: Labor blasts Government over heavy choppers

Rescue helicopter farce: Labor blasts Government over heavy choppers

OPPOSITION health spokesman Roger Cook has blasted the state government for its “farcical” handling of the new DFES helicopters, which are too heavy to land at Royal Perth Hospital.

But Treasurer Mike Nahan said there would be no impact to patient services, with the new choppers not set to come online until mid-2018 at the earliest.

In Parliament on Thursday, the Liberals said the helipad that services the State Trauma Centre at Royal Perth Hospital is not equipped to handle the helicopters’ weight.

The helipad is rated ‘5 tonne’ but must be rated ‘7.5 tonne’ to handle these helicopters.

The Government has refused the Health Department’s urgent request to upgrade the helipad, at a cost of $7 million.

Mr Cook has lashed the Government for allowing the situation to unfold.

“This is a farcical situation and points to more mismanagement of health by the Liberal Government,” he said.

“They’ve purchased a helicopter that cannot land on the helipad at the State Trauma Centre.

“These helicopters are designed to transport critically injured people to the Centre in life-threatening situations.

“The Liberals’ mismanagement is putting patients at risk.”

But Treasurer Mike Nahan countered the Opposition’s claims.

“The State Government understands the critical nature of this infrastructure and as part of the Budget process the Department of Health was requested to prepare a business case,” Dr Nahan said.

“Engineering and feasibility work needs to be undertaken to ensure the helipad can receive heavier helicopters, including military aircraft, as part of the upgrade, which is not due until at least mid-2018.

“There will be no impact on current services provided to patients, which will remain the same until at least mid-2018 when the current helicopter contract expires, with the possibility of extension until early 2020.

“After the contract expires, it is likely the provider will transition to a larger fleet, which will require the helipad upgrade.”