Demand for flying doctors rises

LISA MORRISONAlbany Advertiser

Demand for the Royal Flying Doctor Service from Albany has increased by 58 per cent over the past four years, according to the service’s western operations media and communications manager Joanne Hill.

“Albany is our fourth most frequented regional hospital,” she said. “Across the State, demand for our aero medical services grew by around eight per cent last year, and over the past four years the %number of patients we transported has grown by a staggering 37 per cent.”

Ms Hill said the $6 million funding recently received from Rio Tinto fund a WA jet service for the next four years would benefit southern hospitals, it being primarily used in the Kimberley and Pilbara.

Local clinical nurse Chelsea Clouston says the RFDS prolonged the life of her late mother, Sue Porteous.

“Mum suffered migraine-like symptoms in August 2011,” she said.

“After seeing her general practitioner, she attended the emergency department where scans showed she had an orange-sized mass and a golf ball-sized mass in her brain.

“The swelling and bleeding was at a life-threatening level.”

Ms Clouston accompanied her mother on the flight to Perth for emergency brain surgery and was “very impressed” by the “incredible” medical staff onboard.

“I have always wanted to do RFDS … but when I went on the plane it changed my mind,” she said. “To work in such confined, unpredictable conditions … it is incredible what they do.”

Ms Clouton said her mother had surgery to remove the tumours, but the tumour was incurable and she passed away last October.

“She got 14 months and she wouldn’t have had 14 days if she hadn’t have been treated so quickly,” she said.

“As a nurse, I see firsthand how many people fly out of here every week and I can’t imagine how many families in Albany owe their loved ones lives to RFDS.”

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