For the financial year of 2015/2016 Norfolk Island had a total of 13 Medi-vacs. This doesn't include people uplifted on commercial aircraft with injuries/illnesses. So far this year, since July 2016 we have had 58. That is 58 emergency medical evacuations compared with only 13 the year before. What has happened? Has the health of the Norfolk Island population deteriorated so much that severe illness and injury has exploded? Well no. There are several reasons for the increase.
1. Affordability: Each emergency evacuation costs $45,000 . A previous Norfolk island Hospital employee wrote to the Norfolk Islander in 2015 stating that if somebody came into the hospital with chest pains, we would give them an aspirin and send them away hoping that they had had a bad meal. There just wasn't the financial capacity to handle many evacuations and chances were taken. Unfortunately, this gamble was with the lives of the general public. Now with the advent of Medicare the Federal Australian Government pays for all evacuations, so to Norfolk Islanders and visitors they are free. That's 2.6 million dollars so far this year.
2. An interesting development is that now many travellers are coming to Norfolk Island without travel insurance as they are covered under Medicare for any health costs. This is placing an extra burden on the evacuation system.
3. The Norfolk Island permanent population has increased and more tourists are coming this year. This is mainly due to the reinvigorated economic outlook due to the intervention of the Depart of Infrastructure and Regional Development. There are many projects currently underway and many more to be completed. All of this goes towards a community with greater business confidence.
58 Medical evacuations at a cost of $45000 each comes to 2.61 million dollars.