Derby base to close after six decades

Glenn Cordingley and Robert DoughertyBroome Advertiser

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is closing the Derby base it opened in 1955 as part of a “transition” to the RFDS in Broome, 220km away.

The RFDS started operating out of the Kimberley more than six decades ago with the opening of the Derby outpost, 2640km from Perth.

The RFDS said the announcement highlighted the need to respond to population and demographic changes in patient demand.

Shire of Derby/West Kimberley president Elsia Archer said she was disappointed because the council had historically “bent over backwards” to support the local RFDS.

“We are talking about 13 families leaving town,” she said.

“We have always been told the RFDS would need a presence in Derby - even when the base in Broome was built in 2016.”

The charity said that since 2009, there had been a steady increase in patient flow from Derby to Broome.

“Like any business, the RFDS is constantly reviewing and evolving its operations,” a statement from the RFDS said.

The RFDS said 14 roles - doctors, pilots and nurses - would be moved to Broome and one administrative post would be made redundant.

The RFDS assured the wider Kimberley community there would be no change to the delivery of services and emergency response in the region.

In 2011, the RFDS upgraded its Derby base from aircraft hangar to a transfer facility supporting staff and patients. This was completed in 2015.

The organisation said it would work with the council to determine opportunities for the future use of the building at Derby Airport.

The Derby base was expected to fully transition operations to Broome by the end of March 2018, with the entire move anticipated for completion by the end of that year.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails