Lengthy delays reported by two Mount Gambier district patients needing urgent medical assistance in Adelaide have resulted in Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell calling for greater transparency and cooperation between the State Government, SAAS and the RFDS.
Tarpeena resident Marcia Layley contacted the Independent MP after waiting more than 10 hours to be transported from the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) patient transfer facility at Adelaide to Flinders Medical Centre last month.
With a serious cardiac condition, Mrs Layley was transported with the RFDS from Mount Gambier to Adelaide for treatment, arriving at 10pm at night, however it was not until 8am the following morning when South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) transported Mrs Layley to the Flinders Medical Centre.
Meeting with RFDS representatives in Adelaide, Mr Bell said he learned of an agreement between SAAS and the State Government stipulating they are the contracted authority for transporting patients.
“The Royal Flying Doctors have their own capacity to transport patients to hospital but an agreement between the SAAS and the State Government means they are the contracted authority for transporting patients,” he said.
Mr Bell said regional patients, in particular, were reliant on the service provided by the RFDS and SAAS and were being unfairly impacted by the agreement.
“I’m not being critical of the RFDS or SAAS, who provide an excellent service for regional people in need of medical assistance,” he said.
“But it’s clear there’s a need for transparency with these arrangements with the State Government and it’s probably time for a review and overhaul.”
At the meeting, Mr Bell also raised the potential of empty RFDS planes arriving in Mount Gambier to fly patients to Adelaide being utilised for transporting discharged patients home.
Mount Gambier’s Joan Tremelling also contacted Mr Bell in April after waiting around eight hours in a wheelchair for a commercial flight from Adelaide to Mount Gambier following urgent medical treatment.
Mrs Tremelling said she was told by Mount Gambier Hospital staff the “RFDS would return you” but instead, had to book a return flight herself and it was suggested she apply for the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme to help her pay for the flight.
Mr Bell said the 90-year-old resident deserved better treatment and it would have been a simple matter for the RDFS to fly her home.
“Instead of discharged patients having to make their own way home, it makes sense to utilise these planes, which are arriving in Mount Gambier up to three times a day, to fly patients back to Mount Gambier,” Mr Bell said.
“The facilities at the RFDS Adelaide base are outstanding and people would be able to wait in comfort until the next available flight was heading our way.”