Battle to save our after-hours care
By Sophia Browne and kate wilson
MOTHERS like Debbie Proctor know that you cannot put a price on facilities like the Bundaberg After Hours. The health of your child is priceless.
But the cost of running the service, located at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, and a lack of doctors could threaten to close the clinic.
"Having a young child, the Mater Hospital after hours has been really good - because children only ever get sick in the middle of the night," Ms Proctor said.
"It is always nice to have that service there.
"I have used it on numerous occasions when the kids have had an asthma attack in the middle of the night."
Elliott Heads resident Diane Gage said the clinic was "very, very important" to her recently.
"It was essential for me - within 24 hours I was in hospital for three days. I hate to think what could have happened if I hadn't seen my GP then," Ms Gage said.
"I would hate to see it close."
Keeping the doors of the clinic open is high on the priority list for the Mater Hospital's newly-appointed executive officer Laurie Cahill.
Mercy Health and Aged Care Queensland chief executive officer Ian Mill said he hoped the Mater would be able to continue its after-hours service and management had worked closely with doctors to see what they could do to keep it open.
"They're trying to get enough doctors to be on the books," Mr Mill said.
"There is a shift away from GPs providing their services after hours."
Member for Hinkler Paul Neville has been consulted in an attempt to investigate funding options.
Mr Cahill said he was focused on taking the whole hospital forward.
"The main thing is to set it (the Mater) up for the future and attract and maintain staff," Mr Cahill said.
Mr Cahill said the Bundaberg Mater faced challenges most other regional hospitals were facing.
Wide Bay Division General Practice chairwoman Riita Paartanen said the problems experienced by the clinic were no surprise given the shortage of doctors in Bundaberg.
She said: "The majority of doctors in the area would do a normal day before taking an after-hours shift.
"It does put a lot of pressure on a doctor.
"There will still be the Friendlies clinic, so Bundaberg patients will still have that service."