Looking Ahead Research Paper

looking ahead cover

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has released a new research paper titled Looking Ahead: Responding to the Health Needs of Country Australia in 2028 - The Centenary Year of the RFDS. The report finds that while Australia’s remote population is forecast to grow only marginally in a decade, chronic illness will rise dramatically, with the burden of mental illness forecast to increase by a fifth, if action is not taken to halt current trends.

The report provides health service forecasts from 2018, the RFDS 90th year of operation until 2028, the centenary year of the RFDS.You can download a full copy of the research report here.

RFDS CEO Dr Martin Laverty called the report a call to arms. Dr Laverty said “Chronic illness growth and rural workforce shortage is but a forecast. Investing in country health services and rural health professionals can halt these forecasts from ever being realised. Investing now will save lives and dollars in the long run.

The forecast shows while the Australian population will grow from 25 million to 29 million in a decade, remote and very remote Australia’s population will grow by an average of only 0.2% each year, from 493,752 to only 504,724 in 2028.

11.8 million Australians currently live with at least one chronic illness, with 2028 forecasts equalling 13.8 million, a national increase of 15.6%. Yet chronic illness prevalence forecast to remain higher in remote Australia than metropolitan areas.

A welcome fall of 22.8% in the burden of cardiovascular disease in remote Australia is forecast, from 37.6 DALYs down to 29.9 in 2028, reflecting improvement in heart attack prevention and treatment in parts of country Australia.

A survey of rural clinicians published in the report finds health literacy, mental health services, and improved access to primary care services are priorities for the next decade. The report also forecasts growth in demand for RFDS services by its centenary year in 2028.

"Only by identifying the key gaps in health services can we plan for the future health needs of regional Australians."  Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie

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