Dr David Cooper says FIFO presentations to the Emerald Hospital have halved after they were redirected to a local GP.
Dr David Cooper says FIFO presentations to the Emerald Hospital have halved after they were redirected to a local GP. Di Stanley

Mine workers redirected to Emerald GP

A CONCERTED effort to redirect FIFO and DIDO miners to a GP for treatment to minor injuries has paid dividends at Emerald Hospital.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service executive director medical services rural Dr David Cooper said inappropriate worker presentations to the emergency department had halved in the past year, down to four out of an average 40 presentations daily.

"We know that FIFOs, particularly in Emerald and other places, use the ED as their general practice, certainly in my experience," Dr Cooper said.

"They were presenting with a minor injury that a GP should see, and we had to complete all the workers' compensation forms, and really the mines should have their own medical staff.

"I have always said the companies should have a GP, rather than let their workers use the ED as their health provider, and that's important.

"We did a lot of work in Emerald to get miners back to their GPs and that has been successful."

Dr Cooper said he was looking at an automated online GP appointment booking system and would apply for funding from the Emergency Medicine Foundation, which last week announced it had $100,000 in research grants available for emergency care innovations to relieve pressure in the Bowen Basin.

The EMF estimated more than half a million people such as FIFO and DIDO resource sector workers, grey nomads and seasonal workers were floating in and out of rural and remote communities straining rural health services.

"We are going to apply for those funds and I think we need to look at all rural sites to develop a program where we work with the GP to plug people into a booking system," Dr Cooper said.

"We also need an education program with the mines and resources sector to ask them to look at a GP."


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