A funding boost for air ambulance services has slashed the response times overall by almost 30 per cent in just a few years, according to the Ministry of Health.
In 2017 the Government launched a 10-year modernisation programme amid rising demand for air ambulance services and with the then current fleet averaging around 30 years of age.
Budget 2018 allocated $83m to replace single-engine helicopters with larger, safer and faster twin-engine machines and the expansion of the national Air Desk, which manages and co-ordinates the 24-hour seven-day service.
Health Minister Andrew Little said data released today showed that investment had improved response times by nearly 30 per cent overall.
"In April this year, 89 per cent of emergency air ambulance helicopter missions took off within 10 minutes of being called to respond to a serious incident during the day," Little said.
"This is a big improvement on where we were when the modernisation programme started two-and-a-half years ago, when just 60 per cent of flights took off within 10 minutes."
The average take-off time was now seven minutes.
Little said this was due to improvements including a more centrally co-ordinated system, better helicopters, improved clinical crewing and national monitoring of performance.
"Providing a faster and more comprehensive service, with two paramedics on board the helicopters and the ability to treat patients during flights, is particularly helping people in rural areas, where long distances mean getting urgent treatment quickly is critical.
"Better national co-ordination of our health system is at the heart of the health reforms I announced last month, and the improvements we're seeing in the air ambulance service show why it's the right thing to do."
Budget 2021 allocated $100m to air and road ambulance services.
This included increasing funding across the three regional air ambulance hubs by 10.8 per cent, with an extra $17.3 million of funding over four years.
Road ambulance services would also get a boost of 8.1 per cent, with $83 million in extra funding over four years.
"Emergency Road Ambulance Services respond to more than half a million incidents every year and are a key part of the New Zealand health system," Little said.