The report by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) found rural Australians faced service gaps, funding issues and lack of services which resulted in significantly poorer health outcomes.
Compared to city dwellers, women in remote areas are likely to die 19 years earlier and men 13.9 years earlier with mortality rates 1.5 times higher.
The report also found nearly 58,000 people had no access to a GP, more than 118,000 people had no access to a dental service and almost 135,000 people had no access to mental health services within an hour’s drive.
Heart disease was the most common reason for the RFDS being called out to regional areas, despite it being a preventable condition through effective primary healthcare.
People from rural and remote areas are 2.5 times more likely than those in cities to be hospitalised for a reason that could have been preventable.
Suicide and self-harm rates were also twice as high in rural and remote areas as in major cities.
According to the latest census, almost 30 per cent of Australia’s population live outside major cities
“All Australians should expect reasonable access to primary healthcare services no matter where they live”, RFDS federation executive director Frank Quinlan said.
“For Australians living in rural, remote and regional Australia, access to simple services such as a nurse-led clinic, a GP, a dentist or a specialist is much, much harder.”
The federal government last week released a review of the Medicare system and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said health reform was his top priority.
Report recommendations included improving access and affordability of general practice care and improvements to the My Health Record system.
Quinlan said government should focus on models of multi-disciplinary team based primary care for people who rely on services outside the Medicare system.
“Rural and remote communities need rural and remote solutions that are designed with local communities to respond to need,” he said.Jump to next article