Tuesday 18 September 2012

Cairns MP Gavin King forgets to mention huge staff cuts in Preventative Health

With massive Government sector job cuts across Queensland, an important Preventative Health team has been cut in half, something that new Cairns MP Gavin King failed to disclose in recent discussions on ABC.

The loss of 50 jobs in Preventative Health could have major impacts on some Indigenous communities where syphilis outbreaks can cause many other serious health issues, including for pregnant mothers.

Cairns MP and LNP newcomer Gavin King has only talked about 400 jobs with the Dept of Environment and 20 odd jobs in Tourism. This deception needs exposing. Why he forgot to mention the 50 dedicated preventative health care specialists from the Cairns Public Health Unit, who were all axed from their positions last week, is extraordinary. The staff cuts in this vital public health unit has failed to rate a mention in King's radio interviews.

The Federal Government’s Initiative of ‘Closing the Gap’ in Indigenous health will remain unachievable in Queensland if only front line health service provision is relied upon.

In fact, not one media outlet has published this information. The Nurses Union, a very large and powerful group of health workers, seems to want to protect those that are front line. Many people work behind the scenes to make the nurses able to function efficiently and do their jobs.

Others such as those in Public Health, work to keep people out of hospital, and to stop the spread of infectious diseases.

When 50 health professionals from the Cairns Public Health Unit were told by the new Liberal National Party State Government that their services were no longer required, given just two weeks, to finish up, local State MP Gavin King, along with other media, failed to mention the decimation of these healthcare workers. King deliberately ignored this fact when he spoke to Fiona Sewell on ABC radio. He mentioned the 20 jobs axed from Department of Tourism, but all from Corporate Office in Brisbane. He mentioned the 400 jobs from the Department of Environment, but only 2 local jobs.

The majority of these positions are made up of nurses, doctors and other specialised health care workers who all have a mandatory tertiary qualifications in health, and many have a Masters of Public Health as well. These officers are each specialised in their own fields and have spent many years in their chosen career in public health.

The Cairns Public Health Unit services a population of over 250,000 people.

These specialised and dedicated team of professionals work to keep the general public informed of health risks like smoking, unsafe sex, handling bats etc), to stop the spread of infectious diseases (Hendra virus Dengue fever, tuberculosis, influenza, salmonella food poisoning etc), to maintain clean and safe drinking water (checking of water supplies for E coli or other contaminants), and many other activities that protect the population they serve. Much of their work involves in trying to improve conditions in Indigenous communities. After all, North Queensland has nearly half of the Queensland's Indigenous population living here.

One such specialist, celebrated her 20 years with Queensland Health last Wednesday, only to discover two days later, that she no longer had a job. This person is known internationally for her work on improving Indigenous nutrition in Papua New Guinea and Far North Queensland. It beggars belief that this well-renown health professional has been put out on the scrap heap along with her colleagues.

Another dedicated specialist in sexual health has been overseeing a syphilis outbreak in a remote Indigenous community. Much of this work involves contact tracing and ensuring patients receive the appropriate treatment. Sexual health officers from Cairns have had to go to this community to help test and treat patients in order to eradicate this infection. Cases of the disease are still being reported.

It seems that those that are left in Corporate Office in Brisbane, think that Thursday Island is off the coast of Cardwell.

Queensland has taken a step back 20 years and will never achieve Closing the Gap in Indigenous health in Queensland, without the preventative work going on behind the front line services.

1 comment:

Luigi said...

They haven't got money to pay for staff, maybe they should run all the heath service on a voluntary bases. But they got plenty money to waste in useless payroll software and council amalgamation-de-amalgamation. By the way, did the board meeting attendee and approver of the nurses payroll system got a promotion!
Thanks Mike