The RFDS has been evacuating patients from Central Australia and the Kimberley region to Royal Darwin Hospital for almost 80 years, utilising a combination of hangar sub-lease and shared access arrangements with general aviation providers at Darwin Airport.
A new 15-year lease agreement between DIA and RFDS Central Operations will see DIA construct the A$4 million facility to RFDS design specifications.
The purpose-built RFDS Darwin Base will be located on a greenfields site adjacent to the NT Health hangar facility currently used to service the commercial ‘Top End’ aeromedical contract.
Last year the RFDS transported more than 2,600 Territorians – equivalent to seven patients per day in the Northern Territory.
John Lynch, CEO of RFDS Central Operations, said the project would enable the RFDS to fulfil its strategic goal of providing the finest care through the entire north-south corridor of South Australia and Northern Territory.
“Every three hours, somewhere in the Territory, the ‘Flying Doctor’ is assisting someone who is in need of an emergency medical evacuation,” said Lynch.
“Set for completion in June 2017, our new Darwin aeromedical facility will enable the RFDS to deliver enhanced care and comfort for our patients heading into Darwin.
“The modern facility will create a streamlined patient transfer process, as well as provide a modern and safe workplace for Darwin staff, guests and our NT Health service-delivery partners.
“It will also offer the NT Government additional aeromedical capacity in the ‘Top End’ – and a cost-effective option for the repatriation of low acuity patients from Royal Darwin Hospital to hospitals such as Katherine and Gove."
NT Airports CEO, Ian Kew, said Darwin Airport was proud to be the home of this new premium facility for such a critical and valuable remote medical service in the Northern Territory.
“This further solidifies our long-standing relationship with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and we look forward to working with RFDS well into the future,” he noted.
Local design and construction company Ahrens has been awarded the contract for the construction of the RFDS Darwin Base which will commence in February.
“Once again, NT Airports is contracting a local construction company to undertake this build – we are proud to support the Territory,” said NT Airports director for property, Ross Baynes.
The aviation section of the new facility will include a modern engineering workshop and store with the capacity to hangar up to four RFDS aircraft – including one long-haul aeromedical jet – as well as parking for up to six aircraft on the tarmac apron.
Features of the medical and patient transfer facility include time-critical design factors and private patient management bays, with a separate waiting area/lounge for charter guests such as NT Health clinicians delivering remote clinics.