Primary Health Care
Rural and remote Australia is characterised by small, widely dispersed populations with limited access to primary health care services. The RFDS works to overcome this, providing a comprehensive range of health services to these communities.
Rural and remote Australians see doctors at half the rate, medical specialists and dentists at one third the rate, and mental health practitioners at one-fifth the rate of those who live in cities. As a consequence, Australians living in rural and remote Australia have up to three times the prevalence of avoidable chronic illness. The prevention of chronic illness, disease and mental health problems, is what drives RFDS operations. We are now delivering 58 primary health care clinics on a daily basis, and have more than 1000 patient contacts a day.
Whilst the RFDS will always be known for its Aeromedical services, primary health care now makes up two-thirds of our daily operations, as a continued emphasis on prevention is vital to see better health outcomes for those that live in the bush.
From immunisations, health checkups, referrals or management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular illness general lifestyle issues, RFDS primary health services mean there is regular medical assistance when needed for people living and working remote Australia.
The Flying Doctor provides regular fly-in fly-out General Practitioner, Nursing and Allied Health Clinics to rural and remote communities. Whether on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, these clinics provide all services that an individual or family will need, often looking after several generations of a family from birth through to end of life care. 21,323 Nurse, GP and Dental clinics were conducted across Australia in 2018/19.
A large proportion of people living in remote and rural Australia do not have access to a regular dental service. Recognising the important link between oral health and overall health, the RFDS has established oral health services in parts of remote and rural Australia. These services are provided using fly-in fly-out, mobile and outreach deliver models, and funded by state governments, private investments, or the use of donor funds.
Telehealth consultations form the core of RFDS services. Telehealth technology effectively bridges cast distances to facilitate remote consultations with our RFDS teams who provide medical advice remotely. This means patients can receive advice and treatment 24/7 without having to travel long distances to the nearest town or clinics. RFDS staff prescribe medical treatment, identify when further care is needed and give first aid in emergencies.
Medical chests are lockable steel containers containing a wide range of medicines, which enable emergency and non-emergency treatment for people who do not have access to professional medical care. A person needing medical help can receive advice from an RFDS doctor via telephone who then is able to prescribe appropriate medication from the chest. The RFDS has 2,338 Medical Chests which provide peace of mind to those living in the most remote parts of the Australian outback.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Accessing mental health services in rural and remote areas can be very difficult, with people living in these areas being even more isolated in times of need. RFDS provides a range of mental health and wellbeing services and dedicated RFDS mental health professionals visit remote towns and properties to provide further treatment, support, as well as education about mental health issues for individuals and communities.
Health Promotion & Education
The RFDS runs a variety of health promotion and education programs that seek to improve the health and lifestyles of people living in remote and rural Australia.
Our Primary health care services look and operate differently, depending on location and the needs of the community.
Select your local State or Territory in the top banner, then click 'what we do' to see what Primary Health Services the RFDS provide in your area.