No specialist in sight for Mount Isa

Apr 15, 2022

No specialist in sight for Mount Isa

Apr 15, 2022

The ongoing deterioration of health services across rural and regional Queensland has reached crisis point, with the delivery of specialist services such as ophthalmology now almost out-of-reach for those living in the North West.

Mount Isa-based health professionals have raised their concerns about the lack of ophthalmologist availability within the North West Hospital and Health Service with local Traeger MP, Robbie Katter.

There are fears people’s eyesight, and their quality of life, are being put at significant risk as a result of the public health service’s staffing short-comings.

“The lowest referral category patients can be placed on is Category 3, which means they will be seen within 12 months,” one health professional said.

“We constantly have people coming back to us for renewed referrals as their original one expired.

“Referrals last 12 months, which can only mean it’s taking longer than that to be seen.”

Health professionals noted that since the sacking of the North West Hospital and Health Service Board last year, things had started to really slip.

“We’re having additional pressure put back onto us because of this,” they said.

“We’re having to see patients again and write updated referrals to ensure they are able to be seen when their time finally comes”.

Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the available days of ophthalmology specialist services in the North West had been slashed.

“It’s my understanding that originally an ophthalmologist attended the Mount Isa Hospital five times per month, which isn’t a lot to start with,” he said.

“However this has now dropped back to two times per month, so you can see why the wait list has blown out.”

“There is real sense of frustration amongst the community and the local health professionals.

“They can’t refer patients publicly to go to Townsville or Brisbane because there is technically a service being provided in Mount Isa, but it’s a very poor one.”

Mr Katter said rural Queenslanders were constantly being treated by the “poor cousins” of the city.

“The delivery of these services are non-negotiable in a city the size of Mount Isa,” he said.

“We have community members with eye conditions, waiting over 12 months to be seen. They’re now faced with a decision, do they foot the thousands of dollars of bills for travel and private healthcare to be seen sooner, or do they wait it out?”

Mr Katter said, in desperate cases, health professionals were encouraging patients to travel to and present to emergency departments in Brisbane as, there, people “can’t be turned away and have to be seen.”

“This just isn’t good enough,” the Traeger MP said.

“It seems these rural hospitals are falling victim to cruel budget savings, which are being seen as a priority over our patients’ health.

“I’ve called on the Minister for Health to provide me with an action plan to address the many issues in our rural health care system such as this one.”