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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

June 1, 2012

Transport of Cardiac Patients

A West Coast DHB Xcelr8 project is making a significant difference to the appropriate transfer of cardiac patients from the West Coast to Christchurch for treatment and care.

Xcelr8 is a professional development programme where clinicians and managers work together covering topics such as leadership skills, patient flow, capacity forecasting and planning, and learning to make effective and efficient use of resources.

Approximately five years ago the DHB was experiencing nursing shortages and as a consequence there were insufficient nurses available to accompany cardiac patients as they were transferred to Christchurch by road.

Because air transfers come with a retrieval team it became the norm for cardiac patients to be transferred by air. Subsequently nursing numbers have returned to normal levels yet air transfer remained as the most common mode of cardiac patient transfer.

The Xcelr8 team set out to determine whether we were over-using air transport. They benchmarked the West Coast situation against other hospitals requiring patients to be transferred to tertiary facilities for Cardiac care and also reviewed current literature.

Collaboration between specialists on the West Coast, the Cardiology Department at the Canterbury DHB and the Critical Care and Acute Medical teams resulted in the development of new protocols for cardiac patient transport.

The over-riding priority for this work was ensuring the safety of patients being transferred. Patients requiring urgent treatment, experiencing ongoing pain, who were or had the potential to become unstable during transfer would continue to be transported by air.

In the first four months of 2010, all 19 patients transferred went by air, the same period in 2011 resulted in 12 of 16 (75%) patients transferring by air and in 2012, 13 of 25 (52%) were flown.

Previously 78% of cardiac patients had been transferred by air at an average cost of $214,500 (based on 50 transfers per year). Following the new protocols has seen 52% of patients now being transferred by air at a cost of $143,000, a saving of $71,500 per year.

Implementation of this project has resulted in a number of important benefits without compromising patient safety. New protocols have resulted in improved communication between specialists and medical teams on both sides of the Alps.

Patients have spent less time in hospital overall due to quicker transfers, Ambulance space has been able to be better utilised with the ability to transfer two patients at the same time. Cost savings are significant and will aid the sustainability of services on the West Coast.

Concepts developed in this project are currently being investigated for their application to other patients requiring transfer from the West Coast.


For further information please contact

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595
Email: This is not a link as we want to prevent spam.  Please transfer the email address on the image carefully into your email client before sending the email.  You might find, with some older email addresses on this site that they are no longer current, for staff-change reasons.  If your email bounces back please contact the WCDHB Communications Team - see Contacts section of this site.

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