Health minister Paul Lucas at Hervey Bay Hospital.
Health minister Paul Lucas at Hervey Bay Hospital. Alistair Brightman

Bundy to take back health control

BUNDABERG Hospital is about to come under the jurisdiction of local management after Health Minister Paul Lucas announced a stand-alone Wide Bay Health Service District yesterday.

Speaking at Hervey Bay Hospital, Mr Lucas announced the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, North Burnett and Miriam Vale areas would split from the Sunshine Coast Wide Bay Health Service District from November 1.

“I need a CEO who can concentrate on Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg,” Mr Lucas said.

“The Fraser Coast is growing. Bundaberg is growing. The Sunshine Coast is growing.”

It is estimated the Wide Bay Health District will grow by 46% by 2026/27.

“The person with senior level responsibility will not have to divide their time around the different health discussions,” he said.

“This is about closer management within the Wide Bay district, which will be bigger than Mackay.”

The new CEO will be based in Bundaberg and is expected to be appointed by mid October.

The reversal move comes just two years after the Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District was established in 2008, and the government has insisted there will be no cost associated with the move to split the districts back up again.

Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey said the move was a start in helping to improve health services in the region.

“We still need a local manager,” he said.

“At least we have a Wide Bay district, which is a bit more reflective of the region instead of being lumped in with the Sunshine Coast.”

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said Queensland Health had been forced into the move after a number of crises at Bundaberg Hospital, including the 2009 dental sterilisation bungle.

“It's characterising a very small step in fixing the crisis,” he said.

Bundaberg District Health Community Council chairwoman Josie Meng said the group had been pushing for the split for a long time.

“The area was just too big to manage it all effectively,” she said.

“I think it will be of a benefit to all of the community and those needing health care in the region. We are happy that there is now going to be more of a local focus.”

Bundaberg and District Local Medical Association president Martin Strahan agreed the move toward a Bundaberg-based manager was positive.

“I think the staff at the hospital will appreciate having someone at the hospital,” he said.

“If they can get all the managers of the hospital based in Bundaberg it's a good future step.

“I think eventually, though, they need to have a hospital board in Bundaberg made up of local health professionals.”

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