Questions have been raised about the frequency that road trauma patients are being airlifted to Perth, bypassing Bunbury’s emergency department.
The RAC Rescue Helicopter frequently attends car crashes in the South West and airlifts patients to Royal Perth Hospital where there is a dedicated trauma centre.
The South Western Times understands the diversion of patients to Perth is a cause of frustration for Bunbury’s ED doctors who would rather treat the patients and have only the most critical cases sent to Perth.
The RAC rescue helicopter is deployed when there has been a very serious incident, especially outside of the metro area, in accordance with the tasking guidelines.
St John AmbulanceWA State Operations Centre General Manager Phil Lane said many seriously ill patients were airlifted to the State major trauma unit at Royal Perth Hospital.
He said trauma patients suffering less severe injuries were often transferred to regional hospitals via ambulance.
This year the helicopter has been sent to completed 348 missions across WA including crashes in the South West involving a go-kart, cars and a quad-bike.
Last Friday the helicopter airlifted a 42-year-old Collie man to Royal Perth Hospital after a crash involving a car and truck in Burekup.
South West MLC Adele Farina said the increasing number of helicopter lifts to Perth was a concern and warranted an explanation.
‘‘When appropriate, subject to the nature of the injuries and location ofthe accident, road trauma patients should be sent to Bunbury ED for treatment,’’ she said.
Ms Farina said Bunbury had an excellent ED which was being expanded as well as a level one intensive care unit.
The expansion of emergency and critical care services at Bunbury Hospital aims to take pressure off the hospital.
The $14 million project is also expected to reduce the burden on hospitals in Perth where patients are transferred if Bunbury Hospital is full.
Redevelopment at the hospital, expected to be completed in early 2013, will increase the emergency department’s treatment capacity from 15 to 27.
Ms Farina said it was important for doctors working in Bunbury’s ED to be exposed to the spectrum of emergency cases to gain experience as well as helping to attract and keep doctors and surgeons in Bunbury.