The RFDS in NSW/ACT
About Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section)
For Australians living in rural and remote areas, there are few services more important, trusted and respected than the Royal Flying Doctor Service. In some of the most remote areas of New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia, emergency care, health and wellbeing services provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section) are a vital lifeline for communities.
Through the delivery of broad-ranging, high quality healthcare services, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section) aims to close the healthcare gap and improve the health outcomes of those living in our regional, rural and remote communities. Responding to medical emergencies in the outback has been a critical service of the Flying Doctor since its inception. Today, our Emergency Retrieval team continues to rescue and treat critically ill and injured patients, some of whom have life-threatening conditions. This service operates 24 hours a day, seven days week, responding to emergency callouts in aircraft that are fully equipped critical care units.
To support patients in the outback and rural communities with limited access to medical services, we also operate a Non-Emergency Patient Transport service seven days a week from 6am to 10pm. This team coordinates and manages the transfer of patients living in the Western and Southern NSW who have non-life-threatening conditions but require transportation to and from hospitals for surgery, treatments or diagnostic testing in larger centres. These patients are cared for by a flight nurse who travels with them on the flight and between the airfield and hospital.
We conduct the Non-Emergency Patient Transport service with NSW Health using two of our own aircraft, which are based at Dubbo Airport, and nine patient transport vehicles housed at airfields in Dubbo (3 vehicles), Bankstown, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Bourke and Lightning Ridge.
South Eastern Section bases
Broken Hill was the foundation base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section) network. For more than 80 years it has been providing health and emergency services to people living in remote communities across five different states. A 24/7 emergency evacuation service operates out of our Broken Hill base, capable of putting an aeromedical team in the air within 60 minutes of receiving a call. They are supported by an engineering team who maintain our aircraft at a heavy maintenance facility, located on site.
From Broken Hill, our primary healthcare teams travel out to deliver services at 23 clinics in remote and outback communities across the region. These include general practice, mental health, alcohol and other drugs counselling, chronic disease management, oral and dental health as well as women’s, child and family health. The Clive Bishop Medical Centre is also located at our Broken Hill base. It delivers non-emergency health services including immunisations, children’s health, chronic disease management, wound care and skin checks. A specialist Breast Care Nurse, funded by the McGrath Foundation, also works from this base.
Broken Hill base is also home to the Bruce Langford Visitor Centre, which features a museum, theatre and shop. Visitors to the Centre can explore the Flying Doctor’s rich history, tour the base and see one our aircraft up close.
Having served communities in the North West of NSW for more than 20 years, our Dubbo Base underwent a significant upgrade in 2018-19. The new multipurpose facility features a state-of-the-art aeromedical terminal and training hub, clinical training facilities, four aircraft shelters to facilitate patient transfers and an immersive Visitor Experience. It was designed to support improved patient care and the continued growth in demand for our emergency retrieval services and health services in the region.
A range of healthcare services and clinics in remote communities are delivered from our Dubbo base. These include general practice, women's, child and family healthcare, alcohol and other drug counselling. We also run specialist clinics with visiting medical consultants including ear, nose and throat specialists.
A team of dentists also travel out from the base to deliver oral and dental care services and clinics in remote communities including Bourke, Lightning Ridge, Goodooga and Collarenebri. With the use of our dental van, the team also visits 13 smaller remote communities, where they provide dental care and deliver monthly Aged Care Oral Health Programs and School-based Toothbrushing Programs. Flight crew teams deliver 24/7 aeromedical emergency retrieval and inter-hospital patient transfer services which includes supporting Ambulance NSW. Additionally, non-emergency patient transfer services are provided from our Dubbo Base.
In a program delivered in partnership with the Rural Area Health Service, our Bankstown-based doctors and clinicians travel to towns such as Bourke and Brewarrina to deliver GP and other primary healthcare services.
We deliver an Alcohol and Other Drugs program from our facility in Cobar in partnership with other service providers and health organisations. We aim to expand these services to include mental health staff and programs.
Our team of pilots and engineers based at Launceston are primarily responsible for delivering 24/7 aviation support to Ambulance Tasmania, who provide medical teams supporting communities across Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.
From this facility, our team is contracted to support Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria in the provision of weekly aeromedical services. The team provides non-emergency patient transfer services, including transportation of neonatal and paediatric patients.