CLINICIANS have been ordered to send an ambulance to medical emergencies rather than a helicopter unless they can prove it will benefit a patient.
Ambulance Tasmania will pay for using the police search and rescue helicopter for the first time this financial year, and estimates the bill will be $940,000.
In a directive sent to all staff this week, Ambulance Tasmania's Wolfi Rechberger asked clinicians to weigh up sending an ambulance via road rather than the helicopter which costs about $1600 an hour.
"As each and every mission must be paid for from within the existing Ambulance Tasmania operations budget, Ambulance Tasmania asks each clinician to consider carefully the clinical request for helicopter attendance and, in any event, keep in mind that the tasking of this platform should not be considered a routine transport option," Mr Rechberger wrote.
Ambulance Tasmania chief executive Dominic Morgan said over the past six months medical use of the helicopter had jumped 20 per cent.
"While emergencies are random, this trend is unusual because there has only been a 3 per cent increase in normal ambulance vehicle call outs for the same period," Mr Morgan said.
"A review of the chopper's call outs in fact found that in some of the cases the helicopter's use was not of a clear and demonstrable benefit to the patient, especially as it did not speed up the patient's trip to hospital."
He said in all cases where it would benefit a patient the helicopter would still be used.
The memo has angered paramedics, with the Health and Community Sector Union's Tim Jacobson saying it reinforced the idea that the cost of medical treatment was the primary concern.
"At the end of the day what cost do you put on life?" Mr Jacobson said.
Last financial year, Treasury provided $1.13 million to the Health Department and $1.6million to the Police Department to help cover the service cost.