The long-awaited tender by NSW Health for aeromedical services is poised to be released, the first step in an anticipated shake-up of how rotary-wing services are structured and delivered. The Helicopter Retrieval Network, which is aimed at increasing standardisation, will feature Northern NSW and Southern NSW ‘super regions’.
In information released this month to the industry, NSW Health said: “Current and potential suppliers of these services will be invited to tender for the new network. The procurement process will be open and transparent with tenders evaluated on the basis of compliance with the performance-based specification, contract compliance, and value for money.”
Tenders are due to be released in December and will close in March, towards contract signing in December 2014.
A statewide approach to helicopter procurement means “operators will be encouraged to propose innovative ways of organising and delivering services that provide better value for money for the taxpayer”, with contracts structured around the ‘super regions’. Under the guidelines, operators can propose a joint venture or a consortium involving not-for-profit and/or commercial operators to encourage collaboration, sharing and innovation.
Independent aviation consultants and aeromedical retrieval experts have been engaged to assist with the development of the tender specifications.
“Specifications are directed towards ensuring faster patient care, reduced retrieval times, and bases operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a team of doctor and paramedic, or doctor and nurse available for every flight,” NSW Health advised.
The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) said 16 current service areas are affected: Far North Coast, Mid North Coast, New England, Central Coast, Hunter, Cumberland/Prospect, Nepean, Northern Sydney, Inner West, South East Sydney, South West Sydney, Central West, Orana/Far West, Riverina/Murray, Illawarra and Southern Highlands.
Ahead of the tender release, an industry briefing will be held to discuss the process, minimum requirements and standards. The briefing will also include Q&A sessions and will facilitate opportunities for attendees to network with other parties interested in forming a consortium.
The briefing will be held on November 8 at the Australian Technology Park, Locomotive Street, at Eveleigh, Sydney. Further information is available from the AHIA.