House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024


Capricornia Electorate: Health Care

4:40 pm

Photo of Michelle LandryMichelle Landry (Capricornia, National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

Today, not only as the federal representative for Capricornia but also as an advocate for the health and wellbeing of the broader Central Queensland community, I urgently highlight an issue that extends beyond bureaucratic delays and requires immediate attention. The issue I wish to highlight is the critical need for the approval of the PET-CT machine at Rockhampton Hospital to service those who reside in the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service catchment area. The 250,000 residents within the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service catchment area currently lack access to a PET-CT machine. This essential piece of medical equipment plays a crucial role in diagnosing heart and brain conditions, identifying tumours and monitoring the progression or recurrence of cancer, as well as evaluating its response to treatment. Those in Central Queensland who require a PET scan as part of their diagnosis or treatment of cancer are required to make the seven-hour round trip to either Mackay or Bundaberg hospital. This not only strains other hospitals providing imaging services and increases the financial burden of patient travel to another city but, more importantly, raises concerns about the physical and emotional toll imposed on individuals battling cancer who must travel for these scans.

Since I raised awareness about the lack of medical imaging equipment in Central Queensland, I have been inundated with stories from others who have had to travel for a scan. I have been deeply disturbed to hear stories from constituents who have needed a PET-CT scan, including one local who underwent major surgery and was promptly transported to Mackay the next day for a basic scan. This is unacceptable, yet there is a solution.

For over five years, CQ Radiology has been a steadfast partner with Queensland Health, providing essential imaging services at Rockhampton Hospital. In keeping to their contractual agreements, CQ Radiology stands prepared to install a PET-CT machine at Rockhampton Hospital, with Queensland Health committed to facilitating the necessary infrastructure for its seamless integration. This machine has been ordered and is ready to be delivered to Rockhampton to begin servicing the Central Queensland community. The lead lined room at Rockhampton Hospital, integral for the functioning of the PET-CT machine, currently stands vacant and locked, awaiting the approval that would unleash its potential to serve our community. In a remarkable display of community spirit, CQ Radiology has not only pledged this cutting-edge machine but extended a gift in kind: additional infrastructure, including lead lined toilets and waiting rooms, at no cost to the state. This is an opportunity to elevate our region's medical capabilities, and we must seize it.

Regrettably, for the past 18 months the state Labor government has faltered in taking decisive action, leaving crucial health infrastructure in limbo. Residents within Central Queensland continue to endure the strain of travelling to Bundaberg and Mackay for PET scans, inflicting physical and emotional hardships on individuals battling cancer during their most vulnerable times. According to statistics released by Cancer Council Queensland, over 1,400 people in Central Queensland are diagnosed with cancer annually. This staggering number underscores the pressing need for a local solution, as many residents are compelled to travel for essential scans that are critical for monitoring the progress of their cancer treatment. The PET-CT scanner, with its advanced capabilities, is not just a piece of equipment; it is a lifeline for those navigating the challenging terrain of medical conditions, including cancer.

My dismay deepens upon my learning that the state Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure said the installation of a PET-CT for Central Queensland is not a priority. We cannot neglect the pressing needs of our cancer patients who endure seven-hour round trips for a simple scan when a willing provider offers the service at no cost. It is disheartening that the assistant minister for health, the member for Keppel, residing within our region, has remained silent on advocating for the approval of this vital PET machine. Our community cannot be left behind, and it is imperative that the Labor Party reassess its priorities concerning the health of those in Central Queensland. I implore Labor to unite in a bipartisan call for the health minister's prompt approval of the PET-CT machine installation at Rockhampton Hospital. The time for action is now, and our collective efforts can ensure that Central Queensland receives the essential health services it rightly deserves.