Thursday, 21 February 2019
Bowman Electorate: Redland Hospital
Thank goodness for a national health funding body that reveals exactly what money goes where in the hospital system. On behalf of my people who rely on cancer treatment, surgical treatment, outpatient emergency treatment, medical care, paediatric care and mental health care, I'm glad that that funding body is revealed. There has been a $39 million reduction in state Labor funding to Redland Hospital. There's a very good reason why it was that hospital and not every other hospital in Queensland on the front pages of newspapers and on all three commercial television news programs last week. There's a very good reason for it: metro south is the most underfunded part of Queensland, and my hospital the most underfunded within metro south.
It's an utterly reasonable request that in a civil democracy you should be able to go up to a minister for health and ask, 'How much money is spent in our hospital?' The reality is that you actually can't under a Labor government. No, that information is way too sensitive, way too painful to release. That's why I've insisted on meeting with the state minister, who has very kindly allowed me to meet with the deputy director-general, to talk about the very simple data that my city wants: what was Queensland Treasury's appropriation last year for Redland Hospital? Of course, money is appropriated, as my colleagues on the other side would know, very, very specifically by Treasury. It will go into an LHN and from there into individual hospital budgets. Treasury doesn't release money unless that occurs. But these appropriations are simply top-secret information. It's almost like I'm trying to dive into some hegemony that refuses to release anything about how much state, federal and user-paid money funds a simple public hospital.
Now, Labor were quite quick to release the staffing budget. They went, 'Look over here: the staffing budget is going up!' But that's only 61 per cent of what you spend on a hospital. Labor won't release the other 40 per cent, because they know it's going down. But by golly didn't they find some blame? The first thing they blamed was that home oxygen was out of control, and that explained why the hospital was dropping in funding, but that's just a recategorisation. There are only 20 people, if you look at the numbers per capita, that are getting home oxygen, at a cost of $17,000. That doesn't explain $39 million ripped out. Then they said, 'Oh, that massive boost in Commonwealth money is actually just late payments trickling through later. But the late payments, when we looked at it, were only $8 million. That doesn't explain the other $76 million of Commonwealth funding.
Let's get right to the truth—because then Labor blamed constipation. Yes, they did. They actually said, 'We've been ticking so many constipation boxes this year. There's an epidemic of constipation and we're completely unfunded to deal with it!' In fact, constipation didn't change at all; it was just the clipboards that were ticking constipation that changed. They wanted more money, and they said that we were withholding funds.
This is a Labor government with no clue except for game playing. When we pressed them on it, and we asked, 'What's the most important thing,' they released a million dollar plan for a trip to Bunnings, a bit of paint and some waterbirthing in the corner—in one suite. Waterbirthing was the priority when they have a hospital in such demise. Yes, they offered an increase in the A&E area, but when the car parking issue was raised, they very cleverly said, 'We need a 12-month study before we can fix car parking.' Car parking is a disaster.
Today I'm saying to state Labor, tomorrow I will visit your department in that high-rise building in the city. I'm going to ask: 'Are you serious about car parking? Will you go dollar for dollar in a solution? Will you please, on behalf of my electorate, not take 12 months to study parking?' This is not rocket science. You have user-pay car parks in all large hospitals. You know exactly what the patterns of usage are. You know the size of my hospital and the number of treatments. For goodness sake, just put a tender out for a car park. Just do something, and stop ordering studies. It's a tactic to delay action until the next state election, when we know you're going to announce something and hope to get re-elected. You turn building something as simple as a multistorey car park into a multi-election-term issue. Fix the problem. On behalf of our seniors that have to walk so far, our nurses that have to walk in darkness and the buses that don't connect to the hospital, you need a car park and you need decent, functional public transport.
Redlands isn't a big hospital, but it's a hospital in complete chaos. It is held together only by the morale of its staff. This is a hospital on life support, with Labor just about to flick the switch. We know they're just amping to do it, and it is the community stopping them. When I heard last week, and I went and met a couple—they live a stone's throw from the hospital. This gentleman has needed dialysis as of last November. Labor said: 'Not only is there no dialysis for you; there never will be dialysis. You don't need to call back. There is no room for you.' They now have to carpool this gentleman on an 11-hour trip every second day of his life. He needs 11 hours to get to his dialysis and back in Greenslopes because there's no room to put another dialysis chair in a large suite, because they won't spend the money. This is a state Labor government obsessed with running hospitals badly. Now, they chose to pick on a medical specialist and health economist as a federal MP. That's okay. They are going to have the fight, but this fight will end with a properly funded hospital. Today I challenge them on car parking, to go dollar for dollar with the federal government.