Expansion of rescue helicopter fleet grounded by Government inaction

Almost two years after completing an inquiry into aeromedical services in WA, the Cook Labor Government is yet to act on many of its key recommendations – leaving a much-needed expansion of WA’s rescue helicopter fleet grounded.

Opposition Leader and Member for Moore Shane Love MLA said the Minister for Health had failed to prioritise an independent implementation group tasked with improving WA’s aeromedical services over the next decade.

“The top recommendation from the Chief Health Officer’s Inquiry into Aeromedical Services was to commission an independently chaired implementation group to manage the project of works arising from the inquiry, including a 10-year strategic plan,” Mr Love said.

“This strategic plan underpins every recommendation of the Aeromedical Inquiry, including a much-sought expansion of WA’s rescue helicopter fleet, and was supposed to be completed within two years of the review being handed down.

“It is disappointing and frustrating that despite the inquiry recommending that WA needs to at least double its rescue helicopter fleet, we are still waiting for the initial implementation group to get off the ground two years later,” Mr Love said.

Mr Love said there was a clear need to establish a rescue helicopter service in the Mid West, and potentially other locations, such as the Goldfields.

“A Mid West Rescue Helicopter service is vital to ensure those impacted by road trauma reach hospital within the golden hour and have the best chance of survival,” he said.

Between 2018 and 2022, there were 1,864 reported crashes on Mid West roads, including 46 fatalities and 289 people serious injuries.

“This equates to 105 people killed or seriously injured per 100,000 people, making the Mid West one of WA’s worst regions for road safety by population,” Mr Aldridge said.

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Regional Health, Martin Aldridge MLC said the Cook Labor Government’s inaction was shameful and would lead to deaths in regional WA.

“Around half of our regional population has no access to a life-saving rescue helicopter service, leaving them twice as likely to die from road trauma compared to those in Perth or the South West,” Mr Aldridge said.

“The State Government acknowledges the difficulties of providing services to the world’s largest healthcare jurisdiction, yet when they have been presented with solutions to improve our aeromedical response they fail to act.

Mr Aldridge called for the State Government to commit funding to establish a Mid West Rescue Helicopter in the upcoming budget.

“With the State Budget approaching in May, it’s time the Cook Labor Government utilise their $3.7 billion budget surplus to deliver this much-needed life-saving service for regional WA.”