Key stakeholders from the Gladstone community gathered last night to facilitate a proactive discussion regarding the state of health in our Region.

Gladstone is at risk of losing further skilled surgeons and doctors as they consider the future of their careers at our declining facilities. While the group acknowledged the investment made by the State Government in the Gladstone Base Hospital’s new Emergency Department, other hospital improvements are needed to bring the facility up to the level that the Gladstone community needs and deserves.

Dr Gaston Boulanger, local GP from BITS Medical Centre said the meeting aimed to find a way to work as a community to demand change. Councillor Kahn Goodluck convened the meeting with several other councillors and key industry representatives also present.

Three key issues were on the agenda at the meeting, each prompting passionate discussion to find a solution to the problems that continue to plague our local health system. Dr Boulanger highlighted that previous attempts to facilitate change had been futile and frustrating and that it was time to do something different to ensure our community is heard and our concerns are actioned.

Key outcomes of the meeting were –

In Relation to Gladstone Base Hospital – Community members in attendance at the meeting have endorsed the following statement for delivery to Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) and request immediate action –

“The undersigned members of the Gladstone Community present at the Gladstone Health meeting on the 21st August 2019 declare that the CQHHS has failed to deliver the necessary improvements to the Gladstone Hospital over many years and the members call for an independent Gladstone based governance structure for the Gladstone and Banana Hospital Services immediately.”

A Gladstone based governance structure would enable funding received for Gladstone to be distributed to services within Gladstone. At the moment, funding is distributed by CQHHS from Rockhampton. An example provided at the meeting explained that within the public mental health sector, Rockhampton has ten psychiatrists and twelve registrars) plus four private psychiatrists to service the community. Gladstone has no assigned psychiatrists but does have two registrars (specialists in training). Access to specialist psychiatrists in Gladstone is restricted to consults via telehealth or when specialists are scheduled to visit by CQHHS.

Residents who wish to sign a petition lobbying the State Government to provide better facilities at Gladstone Base Hospital can be found at www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/petition-details?id+3172

The Gladstone Region’s removal from the Distribution Priority Area (DPA) program –

Representatives from Federal Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd’s office said that Mr O’Dowd supported the community in their plight to have Gladstone reinstated to the program. The meeting heard that Medicare data, along with census data from 2016, was used to support the decision made by the Department of Health. A letter to the Minister for Rural Services, Mr Mark Coulton was distributed at the meeting and was signed by those present. The letter requests a review into the decision made to remove the Gladstone Region from the DPA and the immediate reversal of this.

Gladstone Mater Hospital

During the meeting consideration for a collective community purchase of the hospital was discussed. The meeting heard that several key private health providers had toured the facility since it was listed on the market. In information received from MP Ken’O’Dowd’s office, the Federal Government maintained its position that if the Federal Government were to purchase the Mater to be run by the State Government – a business plan on how the State proposes to do this would need to be received. However, Mr O’Dowd said he had not yet received the business plan. Expressions of interest to purchase the hospital close at the end of the month. A sub-group of key stakeholders will meet at a date in the future to determine if the community purchase of the hospital is feasible.

Gladstone News will endeavour to provide updates on outcomes reached regarding these issues as we receive them.