Rescue helicopters received almost $17 million from
health agencies in 2012-13, but more funding from the community
was expected to be needed to keep them in the air and saving
Figures released to the Otago Daily Times under the
Official Information Act show ACC and the Ministry of Health
contributed $59.4 million to rescue helicopters between
2009-10 and 2012-13. The majority of that funding, $43.49
million, came from ACC, with $12.2 million in 2012-13.
During 2012, the National Ambulance Sector Office, on behalf
of the health agencies, negotiated new five-year contracts
with the 10 regional rescue helicopter trusts.
That new funding model came into effect on April 1, 2013.
Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust chairman Ross Black said the
new funding model meant the trust no longer received funding
from health agencies based solely on each mission they flew.
The trust now received a contribution towards fixed costs
each month ''regardless of whether the helicopter is used or
not'', as well as a variable component covering fuel and
''It gives you a bit of certainty.''
Funds went towards the cost of leasing the helicopter, the
pilot and paramedic pool, and a contribution towards all the
fixed costs of maintaining advanced medical capability and
crews 24/7 - ''that is a big chunk of our costs''.
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, which lost a High Court
bid to get a cut to its funding reviewed, had been the
subject of recent media reports.
The Auckland-based trust sued the council's Auckland Regional
Amenities Funding Board after it cut the trust's ratepayer
funding from $1.5 million to $900,000.
Mr Black said the trust, in addition to receiving funding
from health agencies, including hospitals, also received
funding from community donations, sponsorship, and the police
for search and rescue missions.
The largest supporter of the trust was naming rights sponsor
the Otago Regional Council, ''and we are delighted to have
Government funding remained fixed and, given calls for rescue
helicopter services increased between 5% and 10% each year,
it was likely more community funding would be needed.
''Our trust enjoys very generous support from our community
and from the organisations who support us,'' Mr Black said.
''It is clear that if our volumes continue to grow and our
costs increase, we are going to have to raise more of those
costs from our community.''