Kim Smith is facing the challenge of finding a diabetes treatment outlet but partner Gary Booth helps her manage her illness.
Kim Smith is facing the challenge of finding a diabetes treatment outlet but partner Gary Booth helps her manage her illness. Toni McRae

Fraser diabetes clinics close

THE FRASER Coast Health Service’s medical diabetic clinics have closed, leaving sick patients across the region in serious doubt over where they can go for treatment.

Maryborough diabetes sufferer Kim Smith is among many diabetes patients who have been receiving letters from the region’s executive director of medical services, Tim Smart, telling them “this service is not available at this hospital”.

“I got the letter on February 24, more than four months after my doctor referred me to the clinic,” Ms Smith said yesterday.

“I spent $350 yesterday on laser treatment for an eye, directly related to my diabetes. I just will not be able to afford to pay for private treatment now that the clinic has closed and I fear for others who now find themselves in my position.”

Ms Smith was diagnosed with diabetes at age six, 47 years ago, but she has managed her condition reasonably well.

“However my son came down to stay recently because it looked like I might need a live kidney transplant and we needed to see if he was suitable.

“Inevitably I am going to need that transplant so visits to a medical diabetes clinic meanwhile would be really helpful.”

The crisis began when former Director of Internal Medicine Peter Lucas resigned and left at the end of last year.

Dr Lucas wrote to local GPs that he had asked if he could continue part-time as of January and to continue the diabetes clinics but was told no funding was available.

“While the diabetic clinic for the Fraser Coast Health Service closed due to the retirement of Dr Peter Lucas, who had a specialty interest in diabetes, the health service does have four full-time general physicians and a visiting medical officer who have the ability to treat diabetic patients,” Dr Smart said.

“There also is a full-time diabetes nurse educator service available for local patients.

“Patients will need to be cared for by their GPs in conjunction with the Queensland Health diabetes nurse educator and the GP Links (GP Division) Nurse Educators. The option of referring patients to public hospitals that do offer these services may be considered by the GPs.”

Dr Smart said the Fraser Coast Health Service would continue to look at resources to reinstate the diabetic clinics.

The district had also employed a replacement for Dr Lucas, expected to start at the end of March.



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