Dialysis dilemma grows

RENAL disease is a serious issue and demand for haemodialysis in the Fraser Coast region is growing, says Health Minister Paul Lucas.

Yet on Tuesday seven Maryborough renal patients had to travel by ambulance to Gympie Hospital for their five hours in the chair.

Their travelling time took up to five hours for the return journey.

They do this three times each week and some, like Bill Bull, are already finding the trip too much to bear.

“Some days you just don’t want to go, you’re tired, run down and you have pain,” Mr Bull, 56, said yesterday.

“The staff are wonderful but I’m struggling and I know others having to make this journey are too.

“Why doesn’t the minister stop talking and start doing something – like providing a renal unit at Maryborough Hospital?”

“This travelling is putting extreme hardship on renal patients, the travel time added to the treatment is unthinkable for most,” Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen said.

Mr Sorensen asked the Health Minister a question in State Parliament just before the Christmas break.

“With the heightening crisis in shortfall of dialysis machines and chairs at the Hervey Bay Hospital, when will the Hervey Bay Hospital receive the equipment to keep up with current demand?”

The Minister replied that in 2009, our local renal service had recruited a full-time nephrologist and extra nursing staff in response to an increase in demand for haemodialysis.

“That means more patients can be treated more often.

“As the Member ought to know, Gympie Hospital also provides support to relieve demand for services in the Fraser district.

“The district is also exploring alternative models of service delivery such as satellite centres and home dialysis.”

Anne Maddern, an LNP member who has been lobbying for a renal unit at Maryborough Hospital, said that all Paul Lucas had to do was order his directors at the hospital to set up the unit.

“He has the capacity to fix the problem if only he has the courage to do so.

“As soon as he’s fixed Maryborough he immediately also fixes issues in Gympie, Nambour and Bundaberg because of the pressure our renal patients are putting on those hospitals’ facilities.”

Ms Maddern said the Fraser Coast Kidney Support group had warned Qld Health “two to three years ago there would be a problem with a shortage here in dialysis services”.

“The minister should have been aware of it.”

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