In Taupo they’re celebrating, but in Rotorua there will be upset at the government’s decision to essentially close its air ambulance base.
It has been decided that Taupo will keep its rescue helicopter service base while Rotorua’s base will be axed.
Rotorua’s base and helicopter has been sold, with five trusts joined together to cover the central region.
Health Minister David Clark emphasised that response times for Rotorua will remain the same or even faster than before.
The Government’s $83 million investment over four years will move Hamilton’s base to 24-7 staffing, and Tauranga will have paramedics available during the day. Helicopters will be upgraded to twin engines, which will provide enough room for patients to be treated during transport.
“The ambulances are in the air faster and they are also treating on the way back to hospital,” Dr Clark told RadioLIVE.
By helicopter, Rotorua is 14 min away from Tauranga, 18 minutes from Taupo, and 26 minutes from Hamilton.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick, who preciously lobbied for keeping Rotorua’s base, said she’s been given full assurance from the Health Minister.
"It won't be based in the city, but we will be very well served by Tauranga, Hamilton and Taupō," she told Newshub. "That's the spread for this new, upgraded service."
But Ms Chadwick said the region will be lobbying for a base if the response times aren’t being met.
Todd McClay, National list MP for Rotorua, told RadioLIVE that he’s disappointed in the decision.
“The delays will be greater than as [Dr Clark] had said,” said Mr McClay.
The National MP reckons the decision was “a rushed process” and that lives will be lost as a result of the shake-up.
“Frankly, while that’s good for Taupo, it’s just not good enough for the people of Rotorua.”
Nevertheless, the Health Minister remains confident that the service shake-up and upgrades will serve New Zealanders better than before.
“What we’ve got is a much better service than there has been previously.”
The new service starts in November.