Graphic: Tom

RFDS doctors sparking health transformation in rural Queensland

Date published

09 Jan 2024

There is no such thing as a typical day for a RFDS Primary Health Care Doctor, but every day brings the satisfaction of making a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in rural and remote Queensland.


“It is rarely a case of A+B=C in primary care medicine with the RFDS,” said Dr Tom Battisson.

“Every day presents a fresh challenge of getting to our patients, understanding their needs, and providing appropriate care.”

From the Cairns Base, primary health care teams fly into Cape York communities such as Lockhart River and Coen, Gulf coast communities like Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama, as well as remote western towns like Pentland and Croydon.

It is a challenge, but that is what RFDS staff love about their work, and they are passionate advocates for providing healthcare services to communities that may otherwise go without.

“Every vaccination we administer, every health education program we deliver, every consultation we have about a chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease … everything we do in primary health care makes a difference, however small it may seem, because it reduces the consequences for the patient and the need for complicated and expensive secondary care,” said Tom.

“In primary care, little things really matter.”

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The expertise RFDS has developed in delivering primary health care to remote locations has earned an international reputation for excellence and innovation. 

Regular fly-in fly-out clinics in Indigenous communities in the region have been vital to building trust and ensuring that people have access to accurate information and appropriate care. 

Each clinic is tailored to the needs of the particular community, with primary health care personnel typically overnighting in the communities to provide three full days per week of consultations and health education.

In the last financial year RFDS delivered more than 26,500 GP and nurse clinics in Queensland.