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RFDS flying high

Monday, 3rd September, 2012

RFDS South Eastern Section president John Milhinch and executive director Clyde Thomson at the Broken Hill base. RFDS South Eastern Section president John Milhinch and executive director Clyde Thomson at the Broken Hill base.

By Kurtis J Eichler

The RFDS' South Eastern Section saw more patients last year and had more people use its specialist clinics, a new report says.

Patient contacts for the aero medical health service increased by 11 per cent to almost 42,000 in the year to June.

The number of GP clinics also rose 11 per cent to over 4000 and primary or emergency evacuations were up 11 per cent to 770.

Use of clinics such as mental health, dental, women and children's nurse, breast care nurse was up 16 per cent to 1,663.

Telehealth consultations for remote patients were up three per cent to almost 5,500.

The operational statistics come as the Flying Doctor's South Eastern Section board visited the city this week.

Executive director and Broken Hill base GM Clyde Thomson said the increases were a result of the RFDS broadening their services.

"There's an increase in our primary heath service to address the needs of the community," Mr Thomson said.

More patients were calling on the RFDS fleet for help as GP practices in rural areas shut their doors, he said.

The addition of Jo Bevan as the RFDS' breast care nurse raised the awareness of its specialist services and this resulted in the 16 per cent increase, Mr Thomson said.

"I think more people are being referred to the clinic by doctors and the availability of that service is now better know in our network."

President John Milhinch OAM said the increase in clinic visits were mostly a result of the Outback Oral Treatment and Health (TOOTH) dental program.

"(This) takes a dentist and dental therapist to rural and remote communities in the Central West and a flying breast care nurse who is now offering support to women living with breast cancer who is now offering support to women living with breast cancer in the Far West."

Mr Milhinch attributed the spike in evacuations to an increase in farming and "vigorous vegetation growth."

Mr Thomson touched on the board's two-day visit, saying it recognised the strong role of BH in the national organisation.

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