Spotlight on Health


April 5, 2019

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is an overlooked job description these days
but it is still an accurate one, despite everything.

Her Majesty” gets a mention because “the Crown” includes the state interests of Queensland and the interests of the people of Queensland.

The “Loyal” is in there to show the Opposition should represent those interests if the Government fails to do so.

Parliament last week was a copybook example.

The Opposition put the spotlight on the crisis at Queensland Health. The Premier and her Health Minister tried to pretend it was nothing to do with them.

The Code Yellow Crisis

All the public hospitals in SE Queensland, except the Children’s Hospital, were overflowing. It is called a “Code Yellow”.

People were being treated in kitchenettes, patients were being left in halls for up to 12 hours and ambulances were “ramped”. That means they were parked in queues waiting to admit patients. When they are ramped, they can’t attend other incoming calls, so the crisis flows over to the ambulance service as well.

The situation became so bad that the Labor government was forced to buy space in private hospitals so that patients could be treated.

Blame the Weather

At first the Premier and Minister Miles blamed the hot weather, but the heatwaves had passed. Then they blamed a surge in summer flu cases, which was also odd because no other state was reporting a similar epidemic.

Visit the Troops to say you Don’t Blame Them

When Parliament resumed the next day, Minister Miles told the House that early that morning he visited the PA and RBH to assure clinical staff he didn’t blame them.

Blame the LNP

If this was an attempt to embarrass the LNP and stop us asking questions, it failed. The questions continued and so did the dance.

We were told it was the fault of the federal government and we were even told it was the fault of the Newman Government. This was despite Lawrence Springborg’s heroic achievement in getting Queensland Health working again when Anna Bligh had left it a basket case.

Blame the Sick People – Yes, Minister!

Finally, the Premier and the Minister blamed too many sick people wanting to be treated. This was straight out of the Yes, Minister script department.

You may remember the TV episode when Jim Hacker was Minister for Health and there was only one hospital performing well. So he talked this hospital up – until it emerged it had no patients. Once they let sick people in … well, you can imagine.

Now - A New Health IT Bungle

But this is serious and it is a sign that all is not well. There are other echoes from Labor’s past. You may recall the IT fail that resulted in a huge bill for taxpayers when the Queensland Health payroll system crashed? There are doctors and nurses at Queensland Health still dealing with that.

In Parliament this week the LNP shone the spotlight on a new Health IT debacle. The Australian Medical Association of Queensland is begging the Labor Government to urgently stop the Digital Hospital IT roll-out because it is putting patient safety at risk.

Possibly another Rogue Surgeon

And in another scary echo of the past, Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates revealed in parliament that she has received multiple serious allegations about a senior surgeon made by various senior medical professionals.

Thankfully, some lessons seem to have been learnt because I believe after Ros used Parliament to raise it, there is an on-going investigation.

And a Bush Baby backflip

Ros and LNP member for Callide Colin Boyce have been the driving force behind revealing the maternity crisis in the bush. The minister has been forced to backflip on this and instruct the CQHHS not to downgrade services until his own expert review panel reports.

The LNP re-opened maternity services for country hospitals because we knew it was the best way to deal with higher peri-natal death rates. We also believe that, if clinically possible, country mothers should be able to give birth close to their families.

By shutting down services, Labor has produced higher rates of road-side births and put the lives of country mothers and their babies at risk.

A Petition for Dialysis in Gregory

I was proud to recently host Ros when she toured Gregory to update herself on the health needs of rural and regional Queensland. One of the issues I raised with her was the need for renal dialysis chairs in the Longreach and Emerald hospitals.

The need is urgent and last week I tabled a petition from Gregory electors to underline just how urgent that need is.

It is not an optional treatment; it is lifesaving. It is required regularly, every second to third day, sometimes for many years. People in Gregory are having to quit their jobs, lock up their homes and relocate in order to be treated.

It is not fair when both the Emerald and Longreach Hospitals are able to host dialysis chairs in the way Bowen Hospital does. I will continue fighting to get this service in our electorate.

Last Word to the Courier Mail

In their April 3 editorial, the Courier Mail wrote that the Premier had put the delivery of essential services at the centre of her 2017 re-election bid. Sixteen months later and a “shamefaced” Health Minister has admitted the 320 new, state-of-the-art hospital beds promised to address Queensland’s population growth won’t be delivered this term.

The Courier Mail wrote “Perhaps Ms Palaszczuk could stand up and take responsibility for something for a change, instead of shrugging and pretending it has nothing to do with her.”