Johnsons fear losing their local nurses
SUE Johnson knows only too well how valuable nurses are to patients.
In and out of hospital her whole life, she has been on the operating table more times than she can remember, but one thing has never been forgotten - the compassion and care given by nurses.
"It's the nurses that pick up the pieces," Sue said.
"It is vital to have not only nurses, but well trained nurses.
"A well- trained nurse is more valuable to a person in my position than words can express."
That position is wheelchair bound, currently beating advanced breast cancer, coping with spina bifida and tethered spine, as well as gynaecological issues requiring major surgery in Brisbane next month.
When news broke nurses were to lose their jobs, and with it vital cancer, cardiac, palliative and immunisation care for Emerald residents, Sue was suitably concerned.
For her, driving to Rockhampton at least once a month for a brief 20 minute consultation is a costly and, in her opinion, needless occurrence.
With husband Ian, the resilient Emerald local has become a passionate campaigner for reducing government financial wastage.
Ian said cited cost cutting measures for stripping Emerald of five nursing positions could have been avoided had the government reviewed its patient travel subsidy scheme.
"Having to travel from Emerald to Rockhampton for a simple 20 minute consultation is stressful, is physically taxing and time consuming," Ian said.
For Sue to be seen at the Rockhampton Hospital, or if she requires surgery, the couple is required to book a night's accommodation at $150 minimum, of which they are reimbursed $60.
Add to that food and travel expenses, the government returns to them just $81.
"But if we are to get to Brisbane and they fly us, it can cost anywhere up to $2800," Ian said.
"I'm not ungrateful, but surely there is some way these costs can be cut elsewhere to keep our nurses and doctors in Emerald."
Review impacts five nursing positions
STATE Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has confirmed five nursing positions at the Emerald Hospital have been impacted by an economic review of Queensland Health.
"Five temporary part time positions in the Emerald Community Health Service have been impacted by non-recurrent funding," Mr Springborg said.
Inquiries revealed non-recurrent positions meant the roles were established using Federal Government funding under the Rural Health Funding Program, which expired on June 30, 2009.
Essentially, it means the nursing positions have been funded outside the realm of Queensland Health's budget, and the decision was made the roles would be removed as of July 1 this year.
"No permanent nursing staff have been asked to leave, however two staff have been asked to return to their substantive positions," Mr Springborg said.
"The services they provided with non-recurrent funding are all accommodated by other modes of delivery.
"For example, in the case of the cardiac nurse service, Emerald Hospital will work with general practitioners to deliver care to cardiac rehabilitation patients."
But Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller said during parliament Question Time on Tuesday front-line nurses should be nervous about their job security.
"In a regional centre like Emerald, the removal of these important frontline nursing positions will have disastrous ramifications through the Central Highlands community," Mrs Miller said.
"If the Newman government can so flippantly remove these vital positions, health workers and regional communities throughout Queensland should be very concerned what other frontline services and jobs might be next."
Pressure on GPs following nurse 'cuts
GENERAL practitioners will assume all responsibility for cancer, cardiac and palliative care patients, and free immunisations will be scrapped as the State Government continues its drastic cost-cutting measures.
Following reports Emerald Hospital was to lose up to five nurses, the Central Queensland Health Service District was quick to assuage concerns, and explained not one nursing position had been cut. Rather, nurses will assume support roles for GPs working from the hospital and will no longer hold titles such as cardiac rehabilitation facilitator/RN, cancer care/palliative care co-ordinator/RN, wound care RN, and the nurse immuniser/RN.
"All of these positions are positions that are intended to work closely with GPs," CQHSD chief operating officer Rod Boddice said.
"We have a responsibility in terms of accountability to maintain budgets."
Mr Boddice said the Newman government had identified positions at the Emerald Hospital formerly funded by the Federal Government, and in an attempt to cut costs, had cut the positions.
But he said the positions were not being axed, but rather falling under a different funding arrangement.
"The prompt is that we have identified these positions without any budget and we have a very tight situation in QH," Mr Boddice said.
Of the five nurses whose jobs were on the line from July 1 this year, three have been redeployed within the QH establishment, one has indicated they would not return to the hospital, and one has taken a casual position.
Mr Boddice said the nurses would be given new positions at the discretion of the Director of Nursing, but he could not comment on what those responsibilities would be. The functions of the nurses in their previously roles will "be absorbed by the GPs", he said.