The first in a series of announcements about the current tender for national air ambulance services - including Rotorua's BayTrust Rescue Helicopter - is expected to be in late September.

The Ministry of Health and ACC's tender process, currently under way, is the first step towards a 10-year modernisation programme for air ambulances.

The tender process has now moved into formal negotiations with three preferred tenderers across three regions; northern, central and southern.

The negotiations remain confidential until they are concluded and the results of the tender announced, to ensure the process remains fair to all the parties involved and to fit with the Government's rules of a formal procurement process.

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The negotiations are aimed at ensuring the new services will deliver a nationwide service for all New Zealanders and be more integrated with the country's road ambulance and hospital services.

Rotorua and Taupō residents fought hard in April this year to have the local helicopter services included in the tender process.

At the time, 1000 people turned out to march in Taupō and 500 attended a public meeting in Rotorua.

Manager community and ambulance at the Ministry of Health Andy Inder said air ambulance services were more than a transport service.

"They play a critical role in how we respond to health emergencies.

"A good air ambulance service has four key elements: optimal time, appropriate clinical crew, the right equipment and the right destination. With these working together well, patient outcomes can be improved.

"That's why we are taking the time to work with the preferred tenderers, as well as district health boards, to ensure patients needing urgent clinical support get the right clinical care at the right time."

The agreed providers for each region will be announced as the negotiations are concluded.

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The first announcement is expected later in September.