Renal dialysis, CT scanner on LNP election agenda

LNP to deliver CT scanner, renal dialysis to WQ if elected

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Warrego MP Ann Leahy, centre, with Charleville's Terri and David Fitzgerald, who had to drive to Roma when David had suspected appendicitis, due to the lack of diagnostic equipment in Charleville.

Warrego MP Ann Leahy, centre, with Charleville's Terri and David Fitzgerald, who had to drive to Roma when David had suspected appendicitis, due to the lack of diagnostic equipment in Charleville.

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Life-saving medical equipment considered standard items in urban hospitals are on the wishlist for western Queensland LNP MPs Ann Leahy and Lachlan Millar in the run-up to the October 31 poll.

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Life-saving medical equipment considered standard items in urban hospitals are on the wishlist for western Queensland LNP MPs Ann Leahy and Lachlan Millar in the run-up to the October 31 poll.

Mr Millar has campaigned long and hard for access to renal dialysis services for both the Emerald and Longreach hospitals, including a petition to the Queensland parliament signed by 655 Gregory electors in March 2019, and the services are now cemented into LNP policy if the party is elected at the election.

In sharing the potentially life-changing news this week, Mr Millar accused Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles of obstinately refusing to recognise the plight of dialysis patients in the central west and central highlands and asked why the minister had not made a review into dialysis services public.

It was to have been completed by the end of 2018 but he had heard no more about it.

"However, the Minister did open a new dialysis service in Bowen Hospital in 2019, with three dialysis chairs, dialysis machines with reverse osmosis water treatment and a specialist renal nurse position," he said.

"I don't begrudge the patients of Bowen Hospital in any way, but I do plead my own constituents' urgent case.

"Bowen is less isolated and has a smaller population. It's about two hours from Mackay or Townsville, where dialysis is available.

"In contrast, it takes six hours plus to drive the round trip from Emerald to Rockhampton. When you add the hours it takes for the treatment, a day trip is impossible. And you are expected to do this several times a week.

"For Longreach patients, the situation is even worse. Travel one-way is over seven hours."

Mr Millar said travelling times would be considerably more for many Gregory residents who live some distance further from Longreach and Emerald.

"On the basis of population alone, Emerald should have taken precedence when the Minister was allocating dialysis services," he said.

"And in terms of location, both Emerald and Longreach are service hubs for much larger populations from surrounding towns and districts."

Central Highlands dialysis patient Ian Williams with Gregory MP Lachlan Millar in 2019, when Mr Williams was making regular six-hour round trips to Rockhampton.

Central Highlands dialysis patient Ian Williams with Gregory MP Lachlan Millar in 2019, when Mr Williams was making regular six-hour round trips to Rockhampton.

Aerial transfers costing plenty

Meanwhile, Warrego MP Ann Leahy announced that if elected to government, the LNP would commit $50,000 towards a business case for obtaining a CT scanner in Charleville, based on a service and training model.

"I am advised that it can cost up to $100,000 per month to transfer patients from places like Charleville and Augathella to other centres for head and abdominal CT scans," Ms Leahy said.

Because Charleville is outside the 200km radius for ambulance transfers, CT cases are transferred by air.

Locating a scanner in Charleville would not only boost the capability of the local health service, it would save taxpayers money in the longer term and reduce time patients are away from their families, Ms Leahy said.

"Longreach and Mareeba both have CT scanners in their hospitals, when Mareeba is less than an hour's drive to Cairns, and Longreach has a lower population than Charleville."

The issue is one also being pursued by the Murweh Shire Council, which has been gathering data on what it's costing the RFDS to transport patients elsewhere when a CT scan is required.

"Our fact-finding tells us that the average cost of a high-level RFDS flight is $9000," mayor Shaun "Zorro" Radnedge said.

"And between February 21 and August 9, 2019, 23 cases for a CT scan were transferred, mostly for head and abdominal purposes.

"Some of these were people that were flown to the Charleville base from Cunnamulla and Thargomindah.

"A CT scanner here is common sense, otherwise people are being flown in and then have to fly on."

He said his council would be happy to work with either party in government to make a scanner a reality.

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