ROYAL Flying Doctor Service Victoria will expand into the Wimmera with Horsham set to host one of three western Victorian bases.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan launched the expansion at Sale on Friday.
The launch was for Mobile Patient Care, a comprehensive air and road patient transport service.
The Horsham base is due to open in May. Ballarat will also have a base, while Mildura already has one.
The expanded service will aim to provide more than 1000 non-emergency patient trips a month through its road and air services across the state.
Mr Ryan said the service would complement Ambulance Victoria.
"It can be difficult for patients who are unable to drive to get to medical appointments and specialist treatment," he said.
"This service will also benefit many thousands of Victorians who need to travel for non-emergency medical treatment."
The service's Victorian chief executive Scott Chapman said the expansion would bring the service's expertise, reputation and experience to non-emergency patient transport in regional Victoria.
"Our road transport vehicles will complement the work of our air service capability," he said.
Mr Chapman said the service's Ambulance Victoria contract to provide non-emergency patient transport would start in Horsham in May. Ambulance Victoria has the sole licence for emergency transport.
Mr Chapman said the service hoped to do other work, such as direct hospital transport, in the future.
"We are in talks with hospitals and other health care agencies in the region to see what other services they might require," he said.
"Non-emergency patient transport is the fastest-growing area of patient transport.
"We are committed to providing health care services across regional Victoria.
"This will be of great benefit to regional people and we are pleased that Horsham will have one of our bases.
"It is an impressive regional centre."
Mr Chapman said plans included two road vehicles and up to eight staff stationed in Horsham.
He estimated there could be more than 80 patient trips a month, including via the air service's twin-engine King Air B200 plane based at Essendon Airport.
Royal Flying Doctor Service Victorian board member Robyn Lardner, of Horsham, became the board's first rural representative two years ago.
She has followed the development of the submission for a Horsham base during the past year.
"It was certainly fantastic to hear we were successful with the tender," she said.
"As a person in the Wimmera community also, to see the service have a presence in the region is fantastic.
"The service has become a dynamic organisation and has in the past couple of years looked at the community's needs.
"The flying doctor service now offers services in a whole range of areas."
Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott said he was excited about the introduction of the expanded service.
"The service will bring an even broader array of opportunities through expertise, skill and experience," he said.
"We look forward to working with the service across the Wimmera to deliver a high quality, friendly and timely service."