Graphic: Best for the Bush In-Focus report released
In a new report released today, the Royal Flying Doctor Service shines a spotlight on the critical issue of heart, stroke, and vascular disease in rural and remote Australia.
Today the Royal Flying Doctor Service is releasing our first Best for the Bush ‘In-Focus’ report, looking at heart, stroke, and vascular disease and the disproportional impacts on rural and remote Australia. and underscores the urgent need for equitable access to primary healthcare to mitigate their effects.
The report follows the release of the RFDS Best for the Bush Health Base Line report in February 2023, which showed that heart, stroke, and vascular disease accounts for almost 25% of RFDS aeromedical retrievals.
There is strong evidence that acute heart, stroke and vascular disease events are largely preventable, especially with early diagnosis and treatment.
Primary healthcare is at the forefront of services to identify, prevent, and manage heart, stroke and vascular disease risk. Modifiable risk factors associated with heart, stroke and vascular disease are found at higher rates in rural and remote areas.
These include high blood pressure and cholesterol; poorer diets; lower rates of physical activity; overweight and obesity; and, higher rates of tobacco smoking and alcohol intake.
These risk factors can be effectively managed through primary healthcare initiatives.
“As this report recognises, rural and remote communities need rural and remote solutions - that are designed with local communities and respond to health needs."Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The RFDS provides around 35,000 aeromedical retrievals every year, on behalf of the Commonwealth and our state retrieval partners -- transporting those living, working, and traveling in rural and remote Australia to the urgent hospital care they need.
This report shows that areas with the highest prevalence of risk factors and the poorest access to comprehensive and targeted services for preventing and managing heart, stroke, and vascular disease correlate to areas where RFDS aeromedical retrievals are required to urgently transport people to necessary hospital care.
The RFDS Best for the Bush In-Focus report seeks to provide the evidence for governments, service partners and communities to work together to deliver innovative, patient-centered solutions to solve these problems and ensure better health outcomes for our rural and remote communities.
This will only be achieved through the availability of adequate, equitable and appropriately targeted primary healthcare.
The report's findings underscore the urgent need for action, prompting the RFDS to recommend:
1. More equitable access to comprehensive primary healthcare services in rural and remote areas, including cardiac care. This includes primary prevention, secondary prevention, and targeted management plans;
2. Support for funding and service models for heart, stroke and vascular disease prevention and management that are appropriate for the rural and remote context
3. Better data collection and linkages to further understand the need in these areas.
You can read the full RFDS Best for the Bush In-Focus, Summary and Recommendations and Appendices reports below.