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Rural Medi-Flights has lift off -Taking health professionals to the bush and beyond!

BUSHkids Health Professionals with Angel Flight Pilot

February marks the official launch of Angel Flight’s Rural Medi-Flights service, dedicated to taking health professionals to the bush and beyond.

The inaugural flight returned BUSHkids health professionals from Cunnamulla to Brisbane turning several days of travel into a 2.5 hour direct flight home to Archerfield airport.

From 2021-2022 Angel Flight saw a 30 percent increase in demand for its core service of free patient flights, however the demand for health professional flights increased by a whopping 80 percent with numbers continuing to climb.

Angel Flight’s increasingly busy service transporting rural people to the city but also providing increased transport for health professionals to rural and remote hospitals and clinics, confirms the very need for a dedicated Rural Medi-Flights service.

True to our philosophy, ‘help where help is needed’, we have responded to the national rural health crisis with the acquisition of an 8–10-seater cabin class twin-engine aircraft which will be based in Archerfield, Brisbane and service health professionals working across rural and remote Queensland. With government support, Angel Flight wishes to expand the service across all capital cities, Cairns and Port Hedland.

The first of the proposed convoy of aircraft has been dubbed ‘Kayla’ in honour of an Angel Flight passenger who flew almost 400 times to access vital medical care but sadly lost her health battle, at the young age of 23.

Due to the size of the aircraft, it will operate at a fraction of the cost of the larger air ambulance aircraft and have very little limitations on airfields/ports in which it can land. The dedicated air service will operate to the highest standards, under the Air Transport Category and flown by highly experienced airline pilots with Instructor and Check and Training Captain status.

Angel Flight CEO, Marjorie Pagani, who has spearheaded the new operation, comments; “It is widely recognised that the arduous nature of the travel required to get out to the bush is one of the main reasons our doctors and nurses are reluctant to leave the city.”

“As the needs of those living in the bush become more pressing, with research suggesting a widening gulf in the life expectancy of those who live in the city with access to the best medical care and those who live in the bush with limited or no access to health care, Angel Flight recognises the need to upscale its services to meet demand.”

Research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) surmised: “On average, Australians living in rural and remote areas have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services, compared with people living in metropolitan areas. Poorer health outcomes in rural and remote areas may be due to multiple factors including lifestyle differences and a level of disadvantage related to education and employment opportunities, as well as access to health services.”

Marjorie says these findings are consistent with feedback Angel Flight is receiving from health service providers like BUSHkids as well as the rural and remote communities with whom we interact.

Angel Flight has operated for 21 years and conducted nearly 60,000 free flights without any government funding and now for the first time seeks government assistance to expand on Rural Medi-Flights to base an aircraft in every capital city, Cairns and Port Hedland.

To read more about Rural Medi-Flights visit https://www.angelflight.org.au/request-flight/rural-medi-flights/