RACQ CareFlight transports an injured horse rider to Toowoomba.
RACQ CareFlight transports an injured horse rider to Toowoomba. Contributed

Lawrence Springborg defends RACQ CareFlight funding

HEALTH Minister and local state member Lawrence Springborg has quashed suggestions the Newman Government has ignored requests from rescue helicopter service RACQ CareFlight for increased funding for its vital operations.

Readers last week contacted the Daily News concerned at calls from telemarketers working on behalf of RACQ CareFlight in which they were told government cutbacks made it necessary for the service to seek additional financial donations from both existing and new supporters.

RACQ CareFlight flies missions to Warwick and surrounding districts on at least a weekly basis to transport accident victims and hospital patients requiring transfer to larger centres for specialist attention, including maternity and cardiac cases.

An RACQ CareFlight spokeswoman this week confirmed the service was part of a joint submission made to the State Government for increased operational funding.

"CareFlight Queensland was part of a joint submission including three other community helicopter providers (CHP), that asked Treasury for additional CHP funding to cater for increasing operational costs and community demands," she said.

"Unfortunately, the allocations were not made in the 2012-13 budget.

"This puts extra pressure on us to find alternate sources of funding, however we are doing everything possible to minimise any impact on service delivery."

In response to queries from the Daily News Mr Springborg said he placed "a high value on the services provided by community helicopter providers", saying standard annual funding levels would be maintained and that "overfly" payments to meet missions over and above the yearly average demand would be increased.

"To acknowledge the increasing demand on these emergency helicopter services, Queensland Health has this week increased their overfly rate from $3500 to $3980 per engine hour, effective from 1 July, 2012," Mr Springborg said.

"This is the first increase to the overfly rate since 2009."

Mr Springborg ruled out the State Government taking over full control of community rescue helicopter services, saying he did not believe the government could "do a better job" of running them.

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