Healthcare Cuts Put Rural Queenslanders at Risk

September 5, 2020 Updated: September 5, 2020

Hundreds of Queensland doctors say the state’s shrinking rural maternity services are “extremely dangerous” for communities, some labelling the situation “catastrophic.”

They’ve called on the Queensland Labor government, and opposition, the Liberal National Party, to set out their plans for regional healthcare ahead of October’s state election.

Rural women are finding it tough to access doctors during pregnancy or childbirth, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) of Queensland says.

“They have to travel away from their home town if they need or want the services of a doctor,” spokesman Marco Giuseppin said in a statement on Sept. 6.

Giuseppin said the departure of obstetricians from rural and regional areas would lead to hospital theatres shutting because of the drop in births.

“Then anaesthetists and other specialists leave town because they don’t have the resources needed to do their jobs,” he said.

“It makes it necessary for everyone—not just expectant mothers to travel elsewhere to receive healthcare.”

An AMA poll of 700 Queensland doctors found two-thirds believe cuts to regional maternity services were “extremely dangerous” or “catastrophic” and had a damaging flow-on.

The survey also found 38 percent of doctors had little or no faith in the public health system, saying it needs better leadership and more funding.

Another 45 percent claim services have diminished in the past decade.

Giuseppin said the state election was a chance for all politicians to demonstrate commitment to regional communities.

“We want the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the opposition leader (Deb Frecklington) to set out clear, well-funded plans for healthcare across the state so voters can make an informed choice at the ballot box,” he said.

By Aaron Bunch