Why is northern Norway’s air ambulance service in crisis?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 9 Dec, 2019 Updated Mon 9 Dec 2019 16:14 CEST
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Opposition parties on Monday for the government to cancel its agreement with air ambulance operators in northern Norway.

The last 24 hours have seen eight ‘unwanted incidents’ as a result of a lack of air ambulance availability in North Norway, Dagbladet reports based on information from the University Hospital of North Norway (UNN).

The contractor, Babcock, on Saturday said it had grounded five aircraft due to technical issues. This almost halved the ambulance service in North Norway.

It is unclear how many of the eight situations had medical consequences.

Both the Labour Party and Centre Party on Monday called for the government to take over operation of the northern air ambulance, cancelling the state’s contract Babcock.

“This is a service which is not currently giving the population of North Norway the safety they need. People are scared and it is affecting the health of many patients,” Centre Party MP Kjersto Toppe said in parliament, Dagbladet reports.

Labour health spokesperson Ingvild Kjerkol expressed similar sentiments.

“The Labour Party supports the state taking over the ambulance permanently in the long term,” Kjerkol told Dagbladet.

“We believe Babcock has breached its agreement with the state so thoroughly that nothing can stop the state from taking over operation,” she added.

“First, we must ensure that patients’ needs are taken care of. When the situation is under control, we have a number of questions (Minister of Health) Bent Høie must provide thorough answers to,” Kjerkol also said.

Babcock took over operation of Norway’s air ambulance services after tendering a successful bid for the contract in 2017.

Pilots who worked under the previous supplier, Lufttransport, subsequently left after being offered lower play to “stay” in their jobs, Dagbladet writes.

As many as 43 of 100 Lufttransport pilots may have quit by July this year, the newspaper reported.

Previous reports have detailed an April 2018 breakdown in negotiations between the Norwegian Aviation Association (Norsk Flygerforbund) and Babcock on transfer of pilots from Lufttransport. That led to pilots looking for work elsewhere out of concerns over their job security.

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The Local 2019/12/09 16:14

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