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New plane boosts flying doctors in Central Australia.

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The Hon Nicola Roxon MP Minister for Health and Ageing The Hon Warren Snowdon MP Member for Lingiari


29 October 2008

New plane boosts flying doctors in Central Australia

The Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) in Alice Springs has been boosted with the addition of a new Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, fully funded by the Australian Government.

The Government provided $5.1 million for the purchase and medical fit-out of the plane, Beth Stewart Klugh, which Health Minister Nicola Roxon formally dedicated to the RFDS in Alice Springs today.

That brings the number of aircraft operated by the RFDS to 51.

Eleven of these, including the Beth Stewart Klugh, are operated by the RFDS Central Operations, which covers more than 2.3 million square kilometres in the Northern Territory and South Australia, from bases in Alice Springs, Adelaide and Port Augusta. In 2007-08, Central Operations flew approximately 4.5 million kilometres and assisted more than 46,000 people.

Nationally, the RFDS now attends over 240,000 patients and flies 21 million kilometres every year.

“The RFDS provides vital support for communities spread across our vast and sparsely populated land, and remains one of Australia’s most recognised and trusted health services,” said Nicola Roxon.

“Without the health security it provides, much of the inland would be virtually uninhabitable and countless projects and communities would have failed,” said Warren Snowdon.

RFDS uses the latest in aviation, communication and medical technology. As well as its traditional services it has become a highly valued partner to the Australian Government in delivering specialised health services to rural and remote areas, such as the Rural Women’s

GP Service and, more recently, mental health services.

This makes the RFDS an essential part of the Government’s vision for the future of rural and remote health care. The Rudd Government is determined to ensure that everyone in Australia can get the health care they need, when they need it - no matter where they live.

The RFDS will be central to achieving that goal.

Media contacts: Ms Roxon’s office - Sean Kelly 0417108362 Mr Snowdon’s office - Kate Sieper 0488484689

For all other enquiries, please contact Ms Roxon's office (02) 6277 7220