Air ambulance services – 10 year modernisation programme

Air ambulance helicopter services are a critical part of how we respond to health emergencies in New Zealand.

The demand for air ambulance helicopter services has been rising and is expected to continue to rise. The current air ambulance helicopter fleet has an average age of 29 years.

The Ministry of Health, the Accident Compensation Corporation and DHBs, through NASO, have developed a 10 year modernisation programme (2017-2027) for the country’s air ambulance services.

The intent is to build a national integrated network that covers all of New Zealand, is well linked with other emergency services, is available around the clock, is safer and is more appropriately clinically resourced. This will contribute to improved patient outcomes.

Improving patient outcomes

Patients are at the centre of defining what an effective new service model looks like and we want the best possible outcome for every patient who uses the service.

The availability of qualified clinical crew, the type of helicopter and the destination are important considerations in achieving improved clinical care and therefore improved patient outcomes.

A good air ambulance service has four key elements: time, clinical crew, equipment and destination. With these working together well, patient outcomes will be improved.

Outcomes we are seeking

  • Effectiveness: to provide patients and communities with equitable access to care with the right skills, in the right place and at the right time.
  • Efficiency: to efficiently task air ambulances to appropriately meet patients’ social and clinical needs.
  • Risk reduction: to manage the safety risk posed to patients and staff in the use of an aeromedical service capability.
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