His­toric base to close

Broome Advertiser - - News - Glenn Cord­ing­ley and Robert Dougherty

The Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice is clos­ing the Derby base it opened in 1955 as part of a “tran­si­tion” to the RFDS in Broome, 220km away.

The RFDS started op­er­at­ing out of the Kim­ber­ley more than six decades ago with the open­ing of the Derby out­post, 2640km from Perth.

The RFDS said the an­nounce­ment high­lighted the need to re­spond to pop­u­la­tion and de­mo­graphic changes in pa­tient de­mand.

Shire of Derby/West Kim­ber­ley pres­i­dent El­sia Archer said she was dis­ap­pointed be­cause the coun­cil had his­tor­i­cally “bent over back­wards” to sup­port the lo­cal RFDS.

“We are talk­ing about 13 fam­i­lies leav­ing town,” she said.

“We have al­ways been told the RFDS would need a pres­ence in Derby — even when the base in Broome was built in 2016.”

The char­ity said since 2009, there had been a steady in­crease in pa­tient flow from Derby to Broome.

“Like any busi­ness, the RFDS is con­stantly re­view­ing and evolv­ing its op­er­a­tions,” a state­ment from the RFDS said.

The RFDS said 14 roles — doc­tors, pi­lots and nurses — would be moved to Broome and one ad­min­is­tra­tive post would be made re­dun­dant. The RFDS as­sured the wider Kim­ber­ley com­mu­nity there would be no change to the de­liv­ery of ser­vices and emer­gency re­sponse.

In 2011, the RFDS up­graded its Derby base from air­craft hangar to a trans­fer fa­cil­ity sup­port­ing staff and pa­tients. This was com­pleted in 2015. The or­gan­i­sa­tion said it would work with the coun­cil to de­ter­mine op­por­tu­ni­ties for the fu­ture use of the build­ing at Derby Air­port.

The Derby base was ex­pected to fully tran­si­tion op­er­a­tions to Broome by the end of March 2018, with the en­tire move an­tic­i­pated for com­ple­tion by the end of that year.

Pic­ture: Jakeb Wad­dell

The RFDS base in Broome.

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