Queensland’s Minister for Health, Steven Miles, has used the medico-political forum at the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland’s (RDAQ) annual conference to announce a number of inclusions in Tuesday’s state Budget.
Addressing a roomfull of rural doctors and medical students, Minister Miles said the Palaszczuk Government would be investing more in health services in rural and remote areas.
“In a government that puts health central to our agenda...Tuesday's health budget will be no different - it will put the healthcare of Queenslanders first,” Minister Miles said.
“The budget will include a $4.5 million boost to rural podiatry services in the hope that we can reduce that 70 per cent of diabetes-related amputations that we believe are preventable.”
The Palaszczuk Government will also invest $20 million over the next four years to enhance renal services in far-north Queensland.
“The Department is working with Townsville, Mackay, North West, Cairns and Hinterland, and Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services to deliver expanded renal services closer to home for people in those areas,” Minister Miles said.
“This will allow us to put chairs in Indigenous health clinics that don't currently have dialysis services and I'm really excited about it.
“We make those commitments because we believe no matter where you live in Queensland, you deserve access to first-class, world-class healthcare.
“In a place like Queensland, that's not always easy; half of our population lives outside of our metropolitan centres and 10pc of our population is in rural and remote areas.”
The budget inclusions were met with great applause from the audience, but none more so than the announcement that the government will be upgrading staff accommodation around the state.
That includes $660,000 for Clermont, $1 million for Aurukun, $3.3 million for Bamaga, $3.4 million for Kowanyama, $1.8 million for Mornington Island and $2.4 million for the Hughenden and Richmond staff accommodation expansion.
RDAQ president Konrad Kangru said the organisation welcomed the announcement for increased funding of additional services across rural and remote Queensland.
“In particular, we are very pleased to see the announcement of extra renal services away from the major metropolitan areas,” Dr Kangru said.
“We know that a lot of the patients who have got end-stage renal disease often means that's a time that they have to decide if they're going to stay at home or move to the city, knowing they might never return.
“To be able to have those patients continuing their care closer to home, but still getting the simple, quality care of dialysis really is important.”
Dr Kangru said RDAQ was pleased to hear of the increased investment into diabetes podiatry care and foot care really and that it was a worthwhile investment across rural Queensland.
“We're also very, very pleased to hear that the staff who have been putting up with terribly sub-standard accommodation in rural areas for so long are finally going to be rewarded in some of those smaller, more remote area facilities with promises of upgrades to their accommodation.”
While these budget inclusions are a huge boost for health care in rural and remote Queensland, Dr Kangru said there were other points included in their submission to the budget which they’d like to see addressed.
“The inequity between the rebates being offered to specialists providing a care in a city compared to a rural generalist providing that same care in a rural area, really should be corrected and it was great to see Senator McKenzie note that that was an area to work on,” Dr Kangru said.
“Of course we'd always like to see increased funding for primary care services and we know that a lot of our hospitals are under tight budgets, but what we're already is seeing a promising start.”