NETS receives over 4,100 calls annually from health professionals across NSW, the ACT and elsewhere. The purpose is to discuss a sick or injured baby, infant or child. While the intention might be to transfer the child to another hospital, the outcome of the calls can be summarised as follows:
Of the 11 calls taken each day, 7 are moved by NETS, 2 are moved by other service, including to regional centres closer to the patient. The remaining 2 are not transferred and continue to be cared for in the local hospital after careful clinical discussion.
The 7 calls resulting in "medical retrieval" by a NETS team comprise 4 which use one of the specially configured NETS ambulances, 1-2 using a fixed wing air ambulance and 1-2 which use a helicopter.
The process involves clinical conferences with several medical specialists conferring with the referring doctor about the patient. It is common for multiple conversations to occur; especially regarding the sickest patients and the patients for whom a careful decision is required to determine it is safe to travel to a regional centre or not travel at all.
The majority of children and babies retrieved are taken to specialist neonatal or paediatric centres in Sydney, Newcastle or Canberra. Where clinically appropriate, the patient is transported to a regional hospital outside these cities. Some transfers are to tertiary hospitals in other states.
Almost half of the children moved by NETS are newborns (babies up to 28 days of age). The remainder are infants and children up to the age of 16 years.
One in 49 will travel with NETS; at some stage of their childhood. When Sydney is excluded, the likelihood increases to 1 in 38. That's just about one child in every class room!