Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Bowman Electorate: Hospitals
Few policy areas are more important to Australians than health and hospital policies. Obviously Australia has a first-class health system, funded by two levels of government. Often those complex hospital agreements that are struck every two or three years can have a big impact on local hospitals, particularly like mine in Redland in the outer metro area of Brisbane in South-East Queensland. I'm rarely afforded the opportunity to visit Redland Hospital. I did have that chance two weeks ago. I sincerely want to thank the staff who made it possible for me to meet with the volunteers at the front door as you walk in, the hardworking A&E staff and those who work in the birthing suites and in the medical and renal dialysis areas of the hospital. It is obvious that this is a massive operation. Australia has first-class tertiary hospitals.
Redland operates slightly in the shadow of Logan Hospital. It has elements of coverage from that slightly larger hospital and has staff rotations out of Princess Alexandra Hospital. It's good to see the member for Petrie, who comes from the other side of the river. Obviously they are the beneficiary of some slightly higher funding growth that occurred in metro north, and I'll be exploring that issue a little later.
My job, of course—and the member for Petrie won't be happy—is to look after metro south and to make sure that the funding that we see coming to those hospitals is just as generous, because our population growth is certainly the equal of yours. If one were to drive through North Lakes—and wish that one could get back to Redlands as soon as one can—it would be obvious that the population growth there is no less than the growth we are seeing in Springfield and other parts of Brisbane's south.
So, when I'm looking at the funding, I'm looking at the state's ability to shift federal money between state funding areas based on where they plan services to be delivered, as opposed to how the federal government does it, which is primarily on activity—and I know that there are some members on the other side who probably don't always enjoy the fact that activity is an element rapidly disappearing from health funding; increasingly, we are looking now at outcomes based funding. But, for the moment, that is how funding is distributed.
It is of great concern that, as to metro south, it is still very difficult to tease apart exactly what is happening in each hospital. If you're a slightly smaller hospital, you're concerned about the 24-hour surgical cover. You're concerned about whether you're large enough to have an ICU that looks after serious operations and the critical care that's often offered in the larger ones. You're concerned about whether you'll actually ever get an MRI licence at all, let alone a Medicare-funded one. And you're concerned about whether there will be adequate parking so that nursing staff can walk home between shifts and get to their vehicle without feeling fear because they're moving in very dark, poorly illuminated and crowded car parks, let alone those who arrive in the middle of the night to start a shift. These are massive concerns.
But I'm glad that there will be—I hope there will be—a Labor Bowman candidate with some expertise, for the first time, in any area whatsoever, and, this time, I hope it will be in health and hospitals. And, if it is, we will be putting very clear questions to them about the growth rates for funding to our Redland Hospital, about the likelihood of carpark updates, and about an ICU and about MRI—these very important issues for my electorate. I put the Labor candidate on notice in Redlands.