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Better health services for rural, regional Queensland

Minister for Health: The Honourable Lawrence Springborg
Better health services for rural, regional Queensland

New funding will continue to improve frontline health services in rural and regional Queensland, widening the scope of services and delivering on key election promises. The announcement comes as Health Minister Lawrence Springborg met staff and patients in Hervey Bay, Maryborough, St George, Thargomindah, Cunnamulla and Winton and saw firsthand the progress made in two years under the Queensland Government.

“The State Government has agreed to a further $3.7m annually to widen the scope of services to the entire Wide Bay region for a minimum of three years from July 2014,” Mr Springborg said.
“This delivers another objective set out in the Blueprint for better healthcare in Queensland, which is fixing the healthcare mess left behind by the former Labor government. “We are getting on with the task of improving health outcomes for all Queenslanders and transforming the health system into one that is reliable, sustainable, and innovative. Mr Springborg said innovations like the expanded telehealth network were already helping to deliver better patient outcomes.
“We promised at the election to revitalise frontline health services and we delivered through our rural revitalisation package worth more than $82 million in the last State Budget including the $30.9 million telehealth service,” he said. “St George is just one example of a rural hospital embracing greater use of telehealth technology which is allowing residents to remain in their local communities for treatment while staff undergo some training at the local facility.
“The Hospital can now operate five videoconference lines simultaneously, giving local residents and more remote towns such as Thargomindah, Dirranbandi and Quilpie access to Queensland’s best specialist doctors.”

Mr Springborg said the move towards better use of technology in rural areas was supported by clinicians with high quality cameras and transmission allowing a range of diagnoses and treatments including ear, nose throat and dermatology conditions. “Queensland has one of the largest managed telehealth networks in Australia with more than 1,500 systems deployed in over 200 hospitals and community facilities,” he said. “In terms of other frontline health services around regional Queensland, the proposed expansion of access to cancer treatment for Wide Bay patients following a successful trial is also helping to transform and modernise patient care.
“A six-month trial with cancer treatment company Oceania to deliver radiation oncology to low- and medium-risk patients has also proved to be an efficient method of treating people closer to their homes.”

Mr Springborg also praised the great work of the regional health service in slashing dental waiting lists from a maximum of a nine-year wait for some patients to no more than 17 months.
“The waiting list for oral health care in Wide Bay had been reduced from 9,378 patients who were waiting two years to zero,” he said. “The dental waiting lists we inherited as a government were out of control. “The leadership, planning and efficiency shown by Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service and Board has resulted in thousands more local people getting better oral health care in a more timely fashion.”

[ENDS] 14 May 2014
Media contact: Ian Eckersley, Senior Media Adviser 0432 754 897

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