Posted by Jim on September 12, 2010
The Government neglect of health in the Wide Bay electorate was one of the key issues in the Greens campaign and nowhere was this more evident than the long and arduous trips public patients have to make for treatment and tests. In some cases, these journeys are round trips of between 450 and 500 kilometres.
The Fraser Coast Chronicle ignored media releases on this issue even when Jim McDonald submitted a media release on the trips that Maryborough dialysis patients had to make to Gympie for treatment. Two days after the media release The Fraser Coast Chronicle published its own story ignoring the policy issues raised by the Greens. The release was published as a letter in The Gympie Times on 26 June 2010. The Gympie Times had published the original story on this neglect of dialysis patients in Maryborough.
We are pleased to report that the Queensland Health Minister,Paul Lucas, has now announced that $5 million will go towards six new renal dialysis chairs at Maryborough hospital.
Not before time. But this is a patchwork effort. Health reform in Wide Bay needs a holistic approach and so far there is little more than rhetoric and catch-up on health issues evident in the electorate. Let’s hope that the Federal Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, can get quickly onto regional health issues in general and the unsatisfactory position in Wide Bay.
The Federal Health Minister might have some sympathy in her considerations for the fact that Maryborough Hospital no longer has a maternity ward and expectant mothers are required to travel to Hervey Bay. This is ludicrous treatment of the people of Maryborough. Reform should ensure that regional cities have proper health facilities. The Queensland Minister’s statement shows no recognition of the importance of comprehensive local hospital services for the city.
Jim McDonald, Greens spokesperson, Wide Bay electorate, 12 September 2010
Posted by Jim on July 15, 2010
I refer to the article on the greater chance of patients dying prematurely from cancer in the region than Brisbane patients [Fraser Coast Chronicle, 12 July 2010].
The Federal Government has distributed funding for cancer centres in marginal seats. Thus the Wide Bay electorate missed out on an upgrade to cancer treatment – politics before cancer services.
The former Prime Minister called changes to health funding a health revolution. If it was a revolution it has bypassed our region.
There is an urgent need for a review of health services in the Wide Bay electorate. Maryborough and Gympie hospitals need upgrading and funding for public patients in Noosa Hospital increased. Pressure on one hospital is pressure on all of them.
The fact that dialysis patients in Maryborough have to travel to Gympie indicates a shameful breakdown in health services in the region.
The Greens call for a proper caring approach from the Federal Government to the health of Australians in the region.
Wide Bay Electorate
Letter, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Published 14 July 2010
Posted by Jim on June 23, 2010
The fact that Maryborough patients have to travel to Maryborough for dialysis treatment is indicative of the need for real reform of the hospital system in the Wide bay Electorate according to the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald.
“Dialysis patients often need more than one session a week and travelling up and down the Bruce Highway for treatment is appalling, especially when patients requiring dialysis are feeling unwell.
“The neglect of health is also felt in the west of the electorate. Cancer patients in towns like Murgon and Goomeri have to take a return journey of up to 500 kilometres to Toowoomba for some cancer treatments and tests. That is not a system that is designed for patients.
“Free transport offered dialysis patients by the Queensland Minister for Health is not the central issue. Patient well-being is what it should be about and long, arduous trips for treatment or tests fail that criterion.
“Hospital and clinical resources in the whole of the Wide Bay electorate are poorly organised and it amounts to Government neglect of public patients.”
Dr McDonald said that the Rudd Government’s so-called health reforms must address the question of access to health services.
“Patients need reform rather than rhetoric. Real reform will drive an upgrade of Maryborough and Gympie hospitals to improve services across the electorate.
“Pressure on one hospital is a pressure on all the hospitals in our region. With population growth pushing up from the Sunshine Coast into Gympie, the situation will escalate.
“Communities need to have confidence that the smaller hospitals are not under any threat and expansion of services in the larger hospitals should reduce the need for trips to Brisbane except in cases of the highest medical emergency.”
“Real reform will address the present inequality of health service delivery in our region compared with the metropolitan area.
“But when Mr Rudd travelled to regional Queensland with health hand-outs, he ignored the electorate. Wide Bay is not a marginal Labor seat.
Media Release: 22 June 2010; letter published, Gympie Times, 23 June 2010
Posted by Jim on April 10, 2010
The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said that patients in the Wide Bay electorate have missed out on improvements to regional cancer services announced on Friday by Prime Minister Rudd.
“Nothing in Mr Rudd’s announcements will help those patients in the Wide Bay electorate who still have to travel up to 250km each way for some major cancer services.”
He said it is outrageous that unwell public patients in the west of the electorate have to undertake an arduous four or five hour round trip to access the nuclear medicine facilities at Toowoomba.
“For the most part, Mr Rudd’s announcements will benefit public patients requiring cancer treatment in marginal or Labor electorates, but not in our electorate.
“Where are the improvements needed to service the region at the Maryborough and Gympie hospitals?
“People in the west of the Wide Bay electorate worry about losing their existing hospitals. The fact that Wide Bay missed out on Mr Rudd’s largesse will do nothing to lessen those fears.
“Labor’s announcements are coming hard up against an election this year so Wide Bay voters would understandably be cynical about being left out again.
“The Liberal-National Government failed regional Australians in health for twelve years and the Rudd Labor Government has merely picked at the bones of health policy where it sees the possibility of votes.
“People in the Wide Bay electorate aren’t holding their breath to see whether any of the Prime Minister’s argy bargy with State Premiers will actually bring any real benefits to the hospital system in our region.”
Posted by Jim on April 5, 2010
Queensland Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said Tuesday’s debate on health between Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd would bring no joy to residents in the rural areas of the Wide Bay electorate.
On a tour of the electorate last week, he said it was outrageous that some residents in the electorate have to travel well in excess of 200 kilometres to get an MRI scan in Toowoomba.
“Residents of Murgon and the South Burnett who are ill enough to need an MRI scan have to travel more than 220 kilometres to Toowoomba for tests,” he said. That’s around two and three-quarter hours. Each way.
“When you are unwell enough to need the scan, it is an arduous journey. It is crazy that there is a public hospital in Murgon, and the nearest nuclear medicine facility is a 450 kilometres round trip. We’re not talking about the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory here. It’s the South Burnett.”
Dr McDonald said, “It is a national disgrace that twenty years of grandstanding about health have left the regions under-resourced.
“The health debate has to be about how much longer people in the Wide Bay electorate and other regional areas with small towns will have to suffer from the lack of facilities.
“This is a real question for a patient in the South Burnett region suffering pain while Abbot and Rudd grandstand and score points off each other.
“The Liberal-National Government failed regional Australians and the electorate in health for twelve years and the Rudd Labor Government has done no better.”
He said the real priority for Kevin Rudd’s infrastructure program should have been about how better to improve conditions for regional Queenslanders in cooperation with the State Government
“People in the Wide Bay electorate worry about losing their existing hospitals. So, what does the Federal Government do with infrastructure spending in Murgon?
“They installed a row of new rubbish bins in the middle of town with pretty signs about their infrastructure program! Meanwhile, the health service situation for people who live in the rural communities of Wide Bay is no better after billions of dollars have been spent.
“Both the Labor Government and the Liberal-National Coalition at State and Federal levels have had plenty of time to improve health services for regional Australians. They have failed. The bins are symbolic of what is wrong with both parties,” he said.
Media Release, 21 March 2010