Building resilient regional and remote Queensland communities.

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RFDS Dental Service continues to deliver for Queensland communities

A new study has revealed the RFDS Dental Service produced more than $15 million of economic and social benefits for Queensland patients 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 study, which examined service benefits over a six-year period, was jointly commissioned by the QCoal Foundation as Dental Service Founding Partner and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section), and conducted by leading advisory firm BDO Services.

QCoal Foundation CEO Sylvia Bhatia said the study also commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the partnership with the RFDS.

“Through our long-standing partnership with the RFDS and the operation of the Dental Service, we have worked hard to understand gaps in oral health service delivery as well as the value of mobile service delivery model.

“This report was developed to look beyond the high-level statistics around patient numbers, treatments and procedures to the very real economic and social community benefits that stem from oral health care delivered by the Dental Service

“The report supports the anecdotal evidence both QCoal Foundation and the RFDS have been receiving over the years from patients; health care professionals and local Governments who seek out service delivery for their communities.

“One of the most significant findings of the study is that for every $1 in funding, $1.80 of benefits returned to communities through our model of partnership – this opportunity to amplify our impact epitomises QCoal Foundation’s approach.

“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 Service and we hope this report will become a benchmark for our future collaborations and for others in the philanthropic sector,” Ms Bhatia said.

Other key findings

  • More importantly for the QCoal Foundation and its mission to build resilient rural and regional communities, the report outlines improved community oral health awareness, improved reach of dental care nurtured from the community’s trust in the RFDS and improved social capital in local communities.
  • Interestingly nearly 80 per cent of patients in the study overwhelming confirmed that the reduced need to travel to access oral health services was a key economic benefit, along with just over half noting not having to pay for the service. When combined, these two factors strongly support the model of service delivery – especially for those in the most remote locations.
  • While 71% of study respondents indicated that RFDS was their first-choice primary dental provider, general benefits to patient and community wellbeing were increased knowledge on how to care for their teeth; the improved look of their teeth and the ability to eat a greater variety of foods along with the opportunity to socialise.
  • 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.

Learn more about the outcomes of the study in the video below.