Health & Medicine

Regional Queensland’s ‘troubling’ healthcare situation a result of bureaucracy, leaders say

Travellers from far and wide will descend on the north-west rural Queensland town of Normanton this Easter weekend for its annual Barra Classic fishing competition.

But with no doctors based in Normanton Hospital at the moment, competitors will be strapping on their life vest tightly and keeping a wary eye on rogue hooks.

“If you get hurt out here you’re going to be in dire straits,” Carpentaria Shire Mayor Jack Bawden said. 

“It’s Easter break, we’ve got events on, people are out and about.

“We’ve got travellers, we’ve got a vulnerable population, and we don’t have a doctor here.

“I am completely shocked and disillusioned with this health system crisis — we’re going backwards.”

Mornington Island Mayor Kyle Yanner says bureaucratic political processes stifle progress.(ABC News: Leonie Mellor)

The Carpentaria Shire is one of many across the country hard hit by the “degenerating” healthcare situation, which is sorely felt in the vulnerable communities of north-west Queensland.

At the moment there are too many dead bodies on Mornington Island — the morgue is full following a spike in deaths attributed to a lack of health services.

“It’s shocking — we’ve had 16 deaths before April,” Mornington Shire Council Mayor Kyle Yanner said.

“When I was young, we’d be lucky to have one death every three years.”

In March, a Four Corners investigation revealed negligent healthcare practices resulted in the deaths of Indigenous girls and women in the Gulf community of Doomadgee.

Despite acting as the main healthcare centre for the region, Mount Isa Hospital recently cut back its ophthalmology services.

“There has been a huge decline across the north,” a healthcare worker said on Facebook.

“Our governments have lost the care factor.”

Mount Isa Hospital emergency department sign
Mount Isa Hospital has recently cut back its ophthalmology services.(ABC North West Queensland: Jennifer King)

Bureaucracy preventing progress

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and Opposition Leader David Crisafulli visited the region last week.

“One of the biggest feelings people have is that services have degenerated over the years,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“That is troubling, especially in an economic hub like Mount Isa — it just defies belief.”

David meeting
Leader of the Opposition David Crisafulli (right) held ‘healthcare crisis meetings’ in Mount Isa.(Supplied)

Both flagged staff shortages as the issue needing the most urgent attention.

They offered several solutions in the form of better employee incentives and more effective marketing to put rural communities on the map.

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