26 September 2023

Health and Flying Doctors to lift off as partners

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The Department of Health is to enter into a record 10-year strategic partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to provide more certainty for regional, rural and remote patients who rely on the aeromedical service.

Announced by Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, agreements between the Department and RFDS have previously only been for four-year periods.

“This historic partnership will provide long-term security to enable this iconic Australian rural and remote service to plan better into the future,” Dr Gillespie said.

“This new 10-year strategic partnership recognises the vital role that the RFDS plays in the lives of Australians and gives the RFDS much more certainty to plan for the future and continue to deliver aeromedical retrievals, primary health care and dental and mental health outreach clinics to rural and remote patients,” he said.

“An iconic and uniquely Australian service, the RFDS has protected the health and wellbeing of people in rural and remote parts of the country since the 1930s.”

Dr Gillespie said RFDS delivered essential health care in regional, rural and remote communities across the country.

“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors, nurses, pilots and support staff at the RFDS demonstrated their capability and capacity to the entire nation, delivering more than 75,000 vaccinations and flying in vaccines and PPE to some of the most far-flung areas to protect communities,” he said.

“It was during those times that city people around Australia learnt what country people have always known, that the RFDS is such a trusted part of the regional, rural and remote health workforce.”

The Minister said the new formal agreement would give the RFDS the certainty it needed to offer more flexible services that were responsive to patients’ needs.

“Expanded and continued support for the RFDS means better overall health management and preventive health care is available for rural, remote and very remote patients.”

Dr Gillespie said the new funding agreement would begin from 1 July and the 10-Year Strategic Agreement was expected to be in place soon after.

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