Shellharbour MP Anna Watson wants community support to save the Illawarra's emergency helicopter service.
A deadline for submissions to a review of the state’s aeromedical services, which includes the Albion Park-based helicopter, is looming, and Ms Watson is urging community groups and individuals to lodge their submissions by the February 28 cut-off date.
An independent Ernst & Young review claims the government could save millions of dollars each year by moving the Illawarra chopper to Sydney and cutting helicopters at other bases without "significantly affecting" response times to patients.
Ms Watson has written to Health Minister Jillian Skinner slamming the advice, which she said was not based on solid evidence.
"The recommendation in the review is flimsy, ad-hoc and cavalier and I have urged the Minister to reject it outright,’’ she said.
"The review acknowledges that the recommendation is based on flimsy evidence and requires both a further feasibility study and cost-saving analysis – neither of which have been started or completed.’’
Ms Watson said the plan had sparked a wave of anger across the region.
‘‘The community is rightfully angry about this,’’ she said.
‘‘To take something so important out of our region is a real slap in our mouths.’’
The region’s 111 Rotary clubs have thrown their support behind the campaign, holding meetings with councils and circulating a petition initiated by Kiama MP Gareth Ward.
Wollongong Rotary president Leigh Robinson has also created a Facebook group, ‘‘Save the Illawarra Helicopter Service,’’ to help spread the word.
‘‘It is necessary for everyone in the Illawarra to voice their concerns to their local politicians to save the move of this service by joining the petition which has been raised by those who are most concerned,’’ he said.
Moving the service to Sydney would add at least an extra 20 minutes to response times and could cost lives, Mr Robinson said.
NSW Health has sent the review for comment to about 150 stakeholders, including the Ambulance Service of NSW, clinicians, a critical care taskforce, hospitals, unions and MPs.
The government will release its response to the review once the formal submission period closes next week.
Petitions can be sent to Wollongong Rotary at PO Box 14, Wollongong, 2500, or to Gareth Ward's Kiama office.
They must be lodged as originals.