Royal Flying Doctor Service Queensland Principal Dentist Ferrol Cheyne with a patient.
Royal Flying Doctor Service Queensland Principal Dentist Ferrol Cheyne with a patient.

RFDS dental service provides $15m in benefits

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been bridging the Central Queensland dental care gap for six years, providing more than 76,000 treatments and $15 million in social and economic benefits, a study has found.

Advisory firm BDO Services was commissioned by the Queensland Royal Flying Doctor Service RFDS and its founding partner QCoal to study the dental service benefits between 2013 and 2019.

During this time, the service provided 76,637 treatments to patients living in 24 rural and remote communities across the state.

The RFDS Dental Service will visit Springsure from April 6 to 16, Clermont from April 26 to May 5 and Sapphire from May 18 to May 28.

RFDS Queensland chief executive Meredith Staib said the study reconfirmed the immense value of the RFDS Dental Service to both the community and the broader health system.

“For those living and working in rural and remote communities, access to dental services is often difficult and costly, requiring long-distance travel and time away from home and potentially work,” she said.

“These barriers can lead to a decline in oral health in rural and remote areas.

“The RFDS Dental Service was established in 2013 to bridge the gap for those areas with limited or no access to dental services.

“The study found that for every $1 spent on the RFDS Dental Service it has produced $1.80 of economic and social benefits for Queensland in quantifiable benefits alone.”

The Royal Flying Doctor Service Dental Service team.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service Dental Service team.

QCoal Foundation CEO Sylvia Bhatia said the report, commissioned to commemorate 10 years of partnership between QCoal and the RFDS, supported the anecdotal evidence both partners had received over the years from patients, health care professionals and local governments who sought service delivery for their communities.

“Through this project we have been able to understand how our support has amplified social and economic outcomes for the community,” Ms Bhatia said.

“Developed to look beyond the high-level statistics around patient numbers, treatments and procedures, the report highlights the very real community benefits – economic and social – that stem from oral healthcare delivered by the RFDS Dental Service.

“For the Foundation, it also supports our social venture approach and the value that can be delivered by effective and long-term government, not-for-profit and philanthropic partnerships.

“We remain proud of the outcomes of the RFDS Dental Service and we hope this report will become a benchmark for our future collaborations and for others in the philanthropic sector.”

Ms Staib said 71 per cent of study respondents indicated RFDS was their first-choice primary dental provider.

She said the wide-ranging benefits of the RFDS Dental Service were also proven within the study to extend beyond the community, to government and the broader health system.

“Oral health is closely connected to overall health,” she said.

“Avoided GP and hospitalisation costs alone were estimated to total more than $800,000 over the review period.

“Avoided productivity loss can also be expected as poor oral health impacts individuals’ productivity by reducing their ability to work, study and undertake their required functions.”

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