State Government slashing is now getting dangerous
Published: 8 August 2012
60-year-old TB program should not be devolved
Nurses also unconvinced by BreastScreen assurances
Protest rally outside the TB Control Centre tomorrow lunchtime
The LNP State Government’s over-reaction to Queensland’s post-GFC and post-natural-disasters budget situation is now getting seriously dangerous, with ad hoc cost-cutting now posing a significant threat to the quality of many State public health programs, including the highly-effective Tuberculosis management and BreastScreen programs, the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) said today.
The QNU was responding to State Government announcements that the State’s 60-year-old Tuberculosis Control Centre at the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus and the BreastScreen service will be devolved to local health districts. A Powerpoint presentation, circulated to Queensland Health staff yesterday, also indicates other “Public Health Units” are earmarked for similar devolution.
Since the announcements QNU officials have been consulting extensively with nurses at the TB and BreastScreen services and there is considerable concern about the ongoing quality of the services under such a devolved management structure.
To warn the people of Queensland of the dangers, QNU members, other clinicians and some patients, will hold a protest rally at the TB Control Centre tomorrow, 8 August.
TB and other public-health program cuts protest rally details
|Date:||Wednesday, 8 August 2012|
Outside the Queensland Tuberculosis Control Centre
Beth Mohle, QNU secretary
QNU secretary, Beth Mohle, said Queenslanders should be fearful for the quality of these excellent public services under this proposal.
“Certain public health programs need strong central leadership and oversight to ensure they are successful. This is especially true for communicable diseases like Tuberculosis, which requires strong clinical leadership to ensure cases are promptly identified, treatment courses are properly administered and completed and that the right training and advice is provided to other doctors, nurses and clinicians who are dealing with TB patients throughout the State.
“This TB Control Centre has been going since 1950 and has done an excellent job reducing the incidence of TB in Queensland and keeping the rate in Queensland the lowest in Australia and amongst the lowest in the world. Last year the service handled about 200 cases in Queensland and 30 from PNG. That is down from up to 800 a year in the 1950s, when the Centre was first set up.
“Failure to run such an effective program will see the incidence of TB increase, the incidence of drug-resistant TB increase and the death rate increase. There is no way the local health districts have the expertise to run such a program, including its vital training program for other clinicians, without the strong leadership of this centre. This is definitely a program that should be left as it is. However, I am advised that staff have not even been told just what the service will be expected to do after September 30.
“Nurses at BreastScreen Queensland are also unconvinced by Government re-assurances that the quality and effectiveness of the State’s breast cancer screening, counselling and disease management program will be unaffected by its devolution to the health districts.
“For a start this program has 11 service centres across the State and there are 16 geographical health districts. So, unless there is a plan to increase staff and resources, that means there will be, at the very least, a dilution of the current teams. It also raises questions about how the State’s seven mobile screening vans will be managed and how they will be allocated to the health districts.
“The QNU calls on the State Government to halt these public health changes immediately and start consulting with staff, their union representatives and the wider community before making such dangerous decisions,” Ms Mohle said.
The QNU has consistently stated that it does not accept the State Government’s catastrophising of the State’s finances.
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