Government accused of widespread health failures
Queensland Health again came under fire in Parliament today with Opposition and independent MPs targeting problems in Townsville and Bundaberg.
Independent MP for Burnett Rob Messenger called for an investigation into the medical treatment received by mothers and babies at the Bundaberg Base Hospital maternity unit over the last 10 years.
He said examples of substandard or negligent medical treatment at the maternity unit included misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancies almost causing two women’s deaths, an unborn baby negligently exposed to abortion drugs, parents being forced to wait seven months for their baby’s autopsy report and a senior maternity unit doctor pleading guilty to drink-driving charges.
“Will the minister support my call for an independent investigation into the medical treatment received by the mothers and babies at the Bundaberg Base Hospital maternity unit for the last 10 years?” Mr Messenger asked.
Liberal National Party MP for Burdekin, Rosemary Menkens, said North Queensland Radiation Therapy services were a disaster. She said Queensland Health weekly radiation reports showed high-priority patients did not receive care within the acceptable waiting times.
“Not in a single week between October and December 2010, did Townsville Hospital offer treatment to high priority or planned care patients within the maximum acceptable waiting times,” Ms Menkens said.
Health Minister Geoff Wilson defended the Government saying there was no better health system in Australia.
He said he could not comment on individual cases, but the Queensland Health Quality and Complaints Commission had been set up to provide independent investigations of complaints.
“Death or serious injury through a medical error is exceptionally rare – exceptionally rare – and that when it does take place doctors and nurses learn from the mistake so it does not happen again,” he said.
“That is what the public need to understand. They can have confidence that when an error takes place it is very rare and also that doctors and nurses, who are committed to the best quality of service and care for them, want to learn from those mistakes so that they do not happen again in the future,” Mr Wilson said.
The minister said the Government was committed to providing cancer treatment for regional and rural areas.
“Only one government has put cancer treatment services into regional Queensland, and that is the Bligh Labor government. We have put linear accelerators into Townsville and we are doing that in Cairns. We are also doing that in Toowoomba,” Mr Wilson said.
Independent Rob Messenger also called on the Premier to significantly increase patient travel subsidies with patients being forced to cancel life saving treatments or go with out food.
“Payments have not been significantly increased for 20 years,” he said. “I call on the Premier to immediately increase patient travel subsidies for all rural and regional Queenslanders so that they equal the travel and accommodation allowances paid to members of this House.”
He said compensation should be higher as it was the State Government that forced regional patients to travel to Brisbane hospitals for life saving treatments by not providing adequate services in over-crowded country hospitals.
Currently travel subsidies for rural and regional patients were $30 a night for accommodation and 15c per kilometre for travelling in their own car.