Royal Flying Doctor reveals 2023 busiest regions as service demand soars

Anna CoxGeraldton Guardian
The Royal Flying Doctor Service WA recorded its busiest year on record in 2023.
Camera IconThe Royal Flying Doctor Service WA recorded its busiest year on record in 2023. Credit: Supplied/RFDS

The Mid West was the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s second busiest region in 2023, with about five local patients a day being transported for potentially lifesaving care.

RFDS WA retrieved 10,270 patients across the State in 2023, which was the organisation’s busiest year on record — averaging about 28 patients a day across its four bases in WA.

Its busiest region was the Kimberley, which saw 2565 retrievals last year while the Mid West was its second busiest, with 1869 patients requiring a retrieval in 2023.

This figure is a 10 per cent increase on 2022 data which saw 1688 people picked up by RFDS from the Mid West

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Of the 1869 local patients, 939 were inter-hospital transfers from Geraldton Regional Hospital and St John of God Geraldton.

The Mid West base for RFDS is located in Meekatharra, housing 13 staff, most of whom are FIFO workers.

An RFDS spokesperson said the reasons for transfers were broad, but the leading category was injuries and poisoning, which saw 366 people retrieved.

Royal Flying Doctor Service plane.
Camera IconRoyal Flying Doctor Service plane. Credit: Gerald Moscarda/The West Australian

In addition, 339 patients were retrieved for circulatory problems and 244 for digestive issues while 140 people were transferred for mental and behavioural disorders.

Amid growing demand, 10 new doctors will start training with RFDS WA this month. The group will initially be at Jandakot for induction and will then head to various bases around the State to take up their new roles.

The doctors hold a variety of experience, including several in their final specialist training years, from intensive care, anaesthesia and emergency medicine for a six-month rotation.

RFDS WA head of medical Dr Rob Radici says RFDS doctors gained valuable understanding of the complexity of delivering health care in regional and remote WA, both in aeromedical retrieval and primary health settings.

“The experience and memories, whilst providing health care to the people of Western Australia, will remain with them for a lifetime and make them better doctors,” he said.

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