Moral Duty to Fund Heart of Australia

  • MP Pleads for funding for Heart of Australia mobile cardiology clinic
  • Moral duty close rural health outcomes gap
  • Mobile clinic confronts the issues creating the gap

The Heart of Australia mobile cardiology clinic offers a new model of health service delivery with the potential to close the shameful health outcomes gap for rural Queenslanders, according to the member for Gregory Lachlan Millar MP.

Speaking in the Queensland Parliament today, Mr Millar said Queensland governments have a moral responsibility to explore and develop new models of delivering health services in a way that addresses the true issues facing rural patients or they will continue to be diagnosed later, receive less treatment and die younger than city Queenslanders.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect better outcomes,” he said.

Mr Millar pleaded with the Queensland Health Minister to join private sponsors of the clinic and become a funding partner of the Heart of Australia clinic.

The clinic was founded by Dr Rolf Gomes to provide rural patients with the ability to consult some of Queensland’s top cardiac specialists without leaving their home towns.

Since commencing operations, the clinic has travelled more than 72,000 kilometres. It provides investigation, diagnosis and the important follow-up checks and treatments which ensure quality outcomes for rural heart patients.

“In the first year, at least nine patients have required open heart surgery, so this is literally a matter of life and death,” said Mr Millar.

“Historically, the only way to provide health care across a state as big as Queensland has been to travel “the many” – the patients, instead of travelling “the few” – the specialists,” he said.

“This centralised model came into being because regional Queensland lacked modern roads and airports. It took fresh eyes to see that these obstacles have been largely overcome in the 21st century. It took Dr Rolf Gomes. His model could be widely adapted and it would also offer rural patients their first real chance to fully participate in Australia’s public-private health care system,” he said.

Mr Millar said the gap in health outcomes for rural and regional Queenslanders is true across gender, all age groups, occupations and income levels.

He said it is easy to gloss over the difficulties rural Queenslanders face in travelling for health care in a centralised model.

“Every time they travel, they must leave their businesses and lose earnings. They must arrange for the care of their dependents – human and animal. They must pay expensive fares and accommodation and steep transport or parking charges when they get to the city. And they are in unfamiliar cities isolated from the support of family and friends,” he said.

“If we are to make progress, we must find a model that addresses these issues. Heart of Australia does that.”