The mining towns on life support

CENTRAL Queensland mining towns are crying out for more health services amid critical shortages of staff that pose an "unacceptable" risk to communities.

Isaac Regional Council will be pushing for greater funding from the State and Federal governments, in a bid to fix what it claims is a 30 per cent shortfall in health services.

Mayor Anne Baker said the situation had been a challenge for many years.

"When we look at the demand in our region for health services versus the accessibility of supply, in our view we're looking at approximately a 30 per cent shortfall," she said.

"The shortfall has the potential to get worse if we don't act now."

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker
Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker

At council's December meeting, the organisation carried a motion acknowledging critical shortages of medical, nursing and allied health staffing.

The council agreed it should advise the Government that current planning for hospitals and allied health services did not meet demands generated by the "true" population - which included non-resident workers.

According to the council's website the estimated population is 20,940, however an additional 10,580 resource workers are housed in temporary accommodation at any one time.

The motion also included adopting "the position that it (council) should advocate to Mackay Hospital and Health Service that its provision of resources to Isaac region hospitals is inadequate and not sustainable".

The Isaac region’s population is a third itinerant workers.
The Isaac region’s population is a third itinerant workers.

Cr Baker said the council wanted a fair go, citing the region contributed 40 per cent of all of Queensland's revenue through resources royalties.

"We need investment in our communities from all our industry partners; it's our community members that drive their industry and effective access to health services is also the responsibility of industry," she said.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Jo Whitehead said recruiting and retaining clinical staff in rural communities was a challenge not only for Mackay Hospital and Health Service, but nationwide.

Mackay Hospital and Health Services chief executive Jo Whitehead
Mackay Hospital and Health Services chief executive Jo Whitehead

"Mackay HHS already use alternative staffing models and continue to explore different medical models including the staff who are qualified to work as Rural Generalist Doctors, Allied Health Practitioners and General Practitioners," she said.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources industry supported regional communities, especially those near its operations through employment, spending with local businesses and paying royalty taxes.

A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Mackay Hospital and Health Service received $139.4 million in Australian Government activity-based funding in 2018-19.

"The Queensland Government and the Mackay Hospital and Health Service… make decisions regarding the availability, types and range of services to be provided in the Isaac region," he said.



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