Diabetes sufferer Kim Smith and her partner Gary Booth.
Diabetes sufferer Kim Smith and her partner Gary Booth. Toni McRae

Diabetes expert quits

THE WELFARE and future of Fraser Coast diabetes sufferers is in major doubt after the resignation of the senior medical director who had been running the region’s public diabetes clinics.

Dr Peter Lucas, Department of Medicine director for the Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District, has resigned, a Qld Health insider told the Chronicle yesterday.

A week ago Dr Lucas wrote to Maryborough GP Dr Paul Cotton saying he wouldn’t be able to follow up on one of Dr Cotton’s diabetic patients.

“... I will be forced to stop the diabetes clinic at the end of this year. I did ask the hospital to allow me to reduce from full-time to part-time in January 2010 and for me to continue the diabetes clinics and some of my medical education work, but the answer was that there was no funding and the diabetes clinics will not, therefore, be able to continue.

“Although this is, of course, a very short-sighted approach to providing a service to one of our major health problems I am not able to do anything about it...”

“When will this stop?” an exasperated Dr Cotton said yesterday.

“This government has sold off the forests, sold off the railways, and now is selling out patients by not giving them vital public health access.

“This is costing people their good health and even their lives.”

One of the Fraser Coast patients immediately at risk is Maryborough’s Kim Smith.

She’s been on the clinic waiting list almost three months and was concerned not only for her own welfare “but the future of so many people whose lives may be seriously affected because of the closing of this vital public service”.

Ms Smith was diagnosed with diabetes at age six, 47 years ago.

“I have managed my condition pretty well over all these years,” Ms Smith, an animal welfare carer, said yesterday.

“But I really do need help.

“My feet do not tell me when I injure them. I rely on my partner Gary to alert me to injuries before I get gangrene.

“I had cataracts taken out of my eyes a while back in a private hospital and the doctor suggested I get into the Qld Health diabetes clinics here.

“I thought how wonderful. But now on hearing they will probably close I am devastated.”

Dr Lucas did not return the Chronicle’s phone call yesterday.

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