Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (7.25 pm): Despite record health budgets, Gympie health services
are being squeezed with stealthy changes. Constituents and the medical profession contact me with their concerns about declining services and, in some cases, the removal of services altogether— although no-one finds out until they notice a change in what is provided or a loss of service. When you ask a question, you are met with secrecy, cover-ups, or stalling.
Services in the paediatric ward are reduced. If you need to stay overnight or your child is sick out of hours, parents are told to go to the Sunshine Coast or to come back tomorrow. It better not happen on a weekend. Anxious families are forced to drive their sick and injured children up to 100 kilometres away to receive attention. It puts enormous pressure on them. This has been going on for the whole year. Up to 8,000 people have supported a petition started by mother Emily McGourty. The paediatric ward, including staffing issues, needs to be addressed now. The health minister cannot keep ignoring this. More than six weeks ago the federal member for Wide Bay and I wrote to the minister. There has been silence. Last week I wrote again asking for this to be urgently addressed. Silence is not good enough.
A delegation of local doctors raised with me concerns about the reduction in surgeries with the loss of specialist services. In December they highlighted the reduction in paediatric, orthopaedic, gynaecological and obstetric services. At that time others raised concerns about the level of services at the emergency department. I was also told that some dental procedures that need access to a theatre are no longer performed in the region. I have been told that patients are told to find a GP or to make a 185-kilometre round trip to the Sunshine Coast. Some are transferred to SCUH and then discharged late at night. They are left to sit and wait until morning when someone can pick them up or they have to pay exorbitant taxi bills to travel home.
At my stand at the Gympie Show in May, members of the medical profession raised more
concerns. This cannot keep going on. Waiting lists are like a game of Snakes and Ladders. Ambulance ramping is unacceptable. The review of Gympie and the Cooloola Coast healthcare needs, the Master Clinical Services Plan, was due in February last year. We were then told it would be ready by June this year. It is 18 months later and we have seen nothing. Gympie needs local services. Our hospital is on a constrained site at the top of a steep hill and parking is poor. Our private hospital closed 30 months ago. If Gympie Hospital cannot meet its community service delivery obligations, then planning for a new hospital needs to start now.