flight-path-red-tape-delays-helipad-lift-offThe Leongatha hospital’s new helipad, beside the town’s $30 million, new hospital is a striking-looking facility with all the bells and whistles but the only problem is, Ambulance Victoria won’t land its helicopters there. Why not? M052614

IT’S not really the weather for it!
But patients at the Leongatha hospital needing to be airlifted to Melbourne still have to be transported to the local footy ground in Roughead Street when there is a perfectly good helipad, ready for use right behind the new hospital.
The same goes for any patients being transferred back to Leongatha although it is much more likely to be the former.
So what’s the problem?
The hospital is believed to have gone through an exhaustive design and approvals process, in full consultation with Ambulance Victoria and the other stakeholders, before a sod was even turned.
It even went so far as to buy additional land from a neighbour to ensure that the size of the helipad, its flight path and other safety issues were at the top end of the scale.
But still no go!
And Ambulance Victoria’s pilots are believed to be the ones dragging the chain.
Gippsland Southern Health Service Acting CEO Mark Petty believes approval “is imminent” but he admits he also said that a month ago.
“It could come any day now,” Mr Petty said.
“There was one piece of equipment that needed to be supplied but that’s in place now so we believe everything should be in order.
“It has been delayed a little, pending agreement with Ambulance Victoria,” he said.
The issue, according to Mr Petty, that the air ambulance pilots have queried is the flight path, although clearances are believed to be well in excess of the requirements.
He said the consultants for Gippsland Southern Health Service, which operates the Leongatha hospital, PSNK Aeronautical Service, were presently in consultation with the Department of Health and Ambulance Victoria about the helipad’s approval and commissioning.
They have previously stated that they believe the helipad was one of the best in country Victoria, featuring a large platform, safe clearance, lights, signs and access.
Various test flights have been carried out at the helipad, obviously without incident, and it now only awaits the tick-off by the bureaucrats.
In the meantime, patients and ambulance crews have to brave South Gippsland’s less than hospitable weather down at the footy ground.
“The helicopters will continue to use the football ground, as they have been doing for at least 12 to 14 months, so nothing has changed there.”
But the weather certainly has.
Mr Petty said he was looking forward to one of the final aspects of the redevelopment being approved for use after some major works had been completed in recent months, including the public carpark at the front of the hospital which has been warmly welcomed by the community.