More LifeFlight “intensive care in the air” doctors for Queensland

The agreement, announced today (Weds 19th Sept) by Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles, establishes a new service model that will see improved clinical rosters, meaning additional hours on duty.

“The new contract will effectively increase the number of rostered clinical hours from 87,600 to 105,120 annually – meaning more doctors to fill those hours,” he said. 

“This is an important investment in the health and wellbeing of all Queenslanders, ensuring they can get to the health care they need when they need it most.”

LifeFlight doctors completed almost 5,300 medical tasks last financial year.

“Our highly trained critical care doctors not only fly on our own RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service, but on all other services across the emergency helicopter network and on some Royal Flying Doctor Services – from Cooktown to Coolangatta,” said LifeFlight CEO Ashley van de Velde.

“At any hour of the day or night, there are at least three LifeFlight doctors in the air somewhere, caring for patients.”

Minister Miles said Queensland Health is investing $235 million into LifeFlight’s doctor service over the next 10 years.

“LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine Limited won the contract to supply medical officers for retrieval and medical coordination services,” he said.

“Over 96 per cent of the work LifeFlight does is providing aeromedical services to people in need, so they are a good fit for this contract.

“During a competitive tender process, LifeFlight have clearly demonstrated they have the capacity and capability to coordinate medical officers for retrieval services state-wide.”

The agreement means nine more doctors across Queensland regions, dedicated full-time to aeromedical retrieval.

He said the new contract will ensure greater efficiency so all Queenslanders have access to health services, no matter where they live in the state and it will mean better working conditions for medical officers.

“The new service model will ensure no medical officer will work on duty shifts longer that 14 hours.” said Minister Miles.

“Medical officer fatigue management has been an issue with the current retrieval service model.  This new model will significantly reduce the likelihood of fatigue due to improved clinical roster patterns and increased clinical hours.”

“The vastness of Queensland means that an average medical task is five hours, creating the potential for doctors to become fatigued due to work-load, or the length of their shift,” said Mr van de Velde.

“The new service model will significantly reduce the potential for doctors to reach a fatigue level where they they have to stop work.”

A recent three month review of fatigue undertaken by LifeFlight revealed there were no episodes of fatigue during any 12 hour shift across the service. There were 33 instances during the review period when doctors on 24 hour shifts had to stop work due to fatigue.

The service agreement for Medical Officers for State-wide Medical Coordination and Pre-Hospital and Retrieval Medical Services will commence 1 August 2019.