05 July 2013

Southern Hospital Flights

An internal report's recommendation to increase chartered flights between Invercargill and Dunedin to cope with increased travel demands was declined because of cost, the Southern District Health Board says. The board is implementing the report's other recommendations. Released under the Official Information Act, the report said increasing the number of flights would reduce the need for long road trips. At present, there is one weekly return flight from Dunedin to Invercargill. There are also two monthly flights, and one fortnightly.  ''The advent of the Southern DHB becoming more unified has meant an increase in staff travel across the district as part of normal duties. Consequently, there is an increased demand placed on the current travel options of both plane and car ... and some challenges associated with the increased demand,'' the report said. Staff submissions last year revealed safety concerns because of increased demand for road travel, which the board said it would address in the internal travel review. ''As the move towards district-wide services has progressed, there is increased travel by all staff groups travelling to and from either site ... The increase in travel has also meant an increased demand on flights; where previously the plane would not be fully utilised, [it] is now regularly fully booked,'' the report said. Mainland Air is the board's service provider and uses either a nine-seater Piper Chieftain or a six-seater Piper Seneca. Costs were deleted from the report because of commercial sensitivity. Use of the plane was traditionally low, and usually by senior clinicians and other senior staff. Because it was now more widely used, the booking system needed to be overhauled. ''Now that there is increased demand for the plane from all services and all staff groups, there have been booking inconsistencies, creating issues for those travelling.'' The report also looked at airport shuttle services and found there was one in Southland but not in Dunedin. This meant if staff did not have a vehicle parked near Dunedin International Airport, they had to catch a ride with other staff, or a taxi at the board's expense. Travel by car was still the main mode of transport. Dunedin and Invercargill had separate car pools and staff could use only cars attached to their work site. This created inflexibility and times when vehicles sat idle at other sites, unable to be used by the staff who worked there. The report suggested adding another Invercargill to Dunedin trip and a second return flight on a different day of the week. Patient services executive director Lexie O'Shea, through a spokeswoman, said flights would not be added, due to cost. As a result of the review, the board was centralising car and plane bookings to a Southern DHB-wide service, establishing clearer criteria for plane travel, and introducing a Dunedin airport shuttle service and guidelines to assist staff if their flight was cancelled.


  1. Wasnt Eagle a few years back going to offer a IVC to DUD return service a few years back? Can't remember about where I read that

  2. No... it was Mainland Air it offered a schedule... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2010/10/mainland-air-last-airline-to-operate-to.html