Royal Flying Doctor Service finds new demand on the Border

Flying Doctor Service Victorian chief Scott Chapman, centre, with Myer managers Paul Guilmartin and Alvar Poulton, says there’s a growing need for the services the Royal Flying Doctor Service provides for Border residents. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Flying Doctor Service Victorian chief Scott Chapman, centre, with Myer managers Paul Guilmartin and Alvar Poulton, says there’s a growing need for the services the Royal Flying Doctor Service provides for Border residents. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

THE Wodonga-based Royal Flying Doctor Service is transporting on average three Border residents a day to and from medical treatment both locally and further afield.

The Wodonga branch opened early last year to transport patients for non-emergency treatment, recording 949 trips during the past financial year.

RFDS Victoria chief executive Scott Chapman said about 250 of those trips were flights, with the rest made by road transport.

“With a growing population, an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes and increasing mental health issues, the need is growing,” Mr Chapman said.

“We also provide dental and optometry clinics, health checks, and bring female doctors to towns that don’t have women GPs.

“We’re finding the strain on the health budget is increasing all the time and as a charity organisation we do our best to help.”

The service supports those who live in rural and remote areas or have no means of transport to and from hospital.

While the Royal Flying Doctor Service receives government funding, it also relies heavily on donations.

Eight staff work at the Wodonga branch in Leonard Street, using two vehicles.

The area is also serviced by one plane.

“It’s an essential way of assisting people,” Mr Chapman said.

“It’s certainly a service that is needed up here.”

The work frees ambulance services to attend to emergencies, he said.

Staff from Albury Myer donated $5000 to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service on Monday after 12 months of fund-raising.

“There are certain criteria that have to be ticked for the charity we support each year,” Myer’s Albury store operations manager Paul Guilmartin said.

“It has to affect everyone in the community of all ages and it has to be local.

“We came up with the Rural Flying Doctor Service and we’re very happy to say we will be supporting their work next financial year as well.”

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