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RDAQ fears for small rural hospitals

THE potential closure of a small hospital in Central Queensland could be a sign of what is to come, the Rural Doctors' Association of Queensland fears.

People power managed to bring the uncertain future of the Moura Hospital, west of Gladstone, into the spotlight this week.

The town's community members threatened to create a human wall around the hospital in response to fears the Central Queensland Health and Hospital Board would close the facility.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Board chairman Charles Ware confirmed a meeting with hospital staff would be postponed until next week to further canvass community concerns.

Rural Doctors' Association of Queensland Dr Adam Coltzau fears what the situation may mean for other places with small hospitals.

"I am concerned if this is a trend to close smaller hospitals and leave places without emergency care or inpatient services as well," he said.

"It is a basic right for rural Queenslanders to have access to emergency hospital services and acute in-patient and palliative care locally."

Dr Coltzau questioned whether closing the Moura Hospital would lead to an expansion of the rural town's general practice.

While such an arrangement would accommodate for many medical situations, it would leave others, including patients needing antibiotics for pneumonia or serious wounds, to travel 200km to a hospital.

"Queensland has a very sparse area and a lot of hospitals are about two hours away from each other," he said.

"We are concerned the health boards will concentrate their money in the big towns and cities at the expense of smaller communities."

Dr Coltzau also highlighted the importance some rural hospitals played in mining populations.


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