Graphic: Bankstown Launch

Back to the outback from Bankstown

Date published

09 Aug 2021

New Non-Emergency Patient Transport service takes off from Bankstown

You can always bank on the RFDS to provide a mantle of safety. Often that means getting people out of the outback, but what about getting them back to the outback? From now on, there’s an additional service originating from Bankstown Airport for just that and more besides. 

Our South Eastern Section hubs in Broken Hill and Dubbo have now been joined by a permanently-staffed Base at Bankstown Aerodrome in the south-west of Sydney. Its main purpose will be Non-Emergency Patient Transport or ‘NEPT’, whether moving people to and from the State capital’s world-class hospitals or getting them home to recover long-term. There will also be neonatal services for getting sick babies and infants safely to where they need to be.

The first originating NEPT Bankstown service flight took off at 11.56am on 31 May 2021, with Technical Pilot Mark Woods and Senior Base Pilot Ben Hinton at the controls, Flight Nurse Lydia Newton in the cabin and the sun shining brightly.

Graphic: With your help Geoffrey Graham was given access to critical healthcare

The first patient, Geoffrey Graham, was being taken to Wagga Wagga and on to Griffith after being treated for a stroke in Sydney. “We’ve got a brilliant day for it,” said Geoffrey as he emerged from the ambulance onto the airport tarmac. “I’d really like to thank everyone who’s helped me along the way.” 

RFDS aeroplanes have been operating through Bankstown for a while, but mainly on a contract basis to support NSW Ambulance and the NSW Government’s HealthShare patient transport system with the aircraft actually stationed at RFDS Dubbo Base.  

Supplementing the NEPT HealthShare contract service agreement, this service now means full-time RFDS pilots, flight nurses and registered nurses will work out of Bankstown from our bigger Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft. 

Flight Nurse Lydia, who’s usually based in Dubbo, explained that there’s sound medical reasons for the new service. “It’s about patient wellbeing,” she said. “People heal better when they’re near their loved ones.”

“A lot of the work we’ll do from Bankstown will involve repatriating patients who’ve been brought to Sydney from regional areas for critical care, or for situations like a permanent pacemaker to be fitted, a broken limb, and so on.” 

“We’ll then be taking them for rehabilitation closer to family. They no longer need to be thousands of miles from their hometown with no family around – we’ll get them back.”