Royal Flying Doctor Service report finds health accessibility top priority

Residents in rural and remote Western Australia listed general access to medical services, mental health services and preventative healthcare and promotion as the three most important health issues impacting their communities, according to a Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) report. 

During the last three years 513 patients were aeromedically retrieved by the RFDS from Esperance.

Of those retrievals 98 were for coronary heart disease or heart attacks. The highest recorded retrieval reason was injury and poisoning of which there was 134. Diseases or problems with the digestive tract was the next largest, with 71 patients flown out. The lowest retrieval reason was mental and behavioural disorders, with 39 patients over the last three years. 

Rather than examining evidence on the health access and outcome disparity between city and country the report looked at how country people themselves see those disparities.

In particular the survey asked remote and rural Australians to give their opinions on the three most important health issues impacting their communities. Participates were also asked to share their views on three areas where money should be spent to improve health outcomes for their communities,indicate the types of RFDS services they used in the previous year, and self-rate their overall health and wellbeing. 

The report, collated by RFDS with the National Farmers’ Federation, was based of a short survey conducted in early 2017, that 1,188 people responded to. 

Almost one-third of responses or 32.5 per cent identified general health access as their key priority.

This comprised general access to medical services at 13.1 per cent, access to specialists at 10.6 per cent, access to GPs at 4.6 per cent, access to hospitals at 2.3 per cent, access to diagnostic tests at 1.4 per cent, and access to allied health services at 0.5 per cent. Addressing mental health at 12.2 per cent and drug and alcohol problems at 4.1 per cent were the second and third priorities respectively. According to the report people believed health expenditure should be prioritised towards general health service access as first priority, mental health as second priority and health prevention and promotion as the third priority. Visit www.flyingdoctor.org.au to view the full report.

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