Patient concerned for health staff

JUST four months ago the Fraser Coast public health service was providing dialysis for 40 patients three times a week.

The number has now increased to 46.

Bauple’s Bill Bull is one of the 46 – and he despairs that “dedicated, hard-working hospital doctors and nurses are no longer able to keep up with the demand from people suffering from chronic health disease”.

“It costs the community about $60,000 a year to keep a person alive on dialysis,” Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District northern cluster manager Beth Norton said on Friday.

“This is a very significant number of health-care dollars and why prevention is truly the key.”

“I was actually diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1986,” Mr Bull, 56, said yesterday.

“I inherited it. Two of my four children have it, my mother Ruby May died from it when she was 44, my eldest brother Kenny died from it at 33 and so did my older brother Noel at age 54.

“I started dialysis two weeks ago. Every three days my blood is drained and they take out the toxins – that’s if I can get a bed, or chair as we call them.

“I am not complaining for me. I was offered a bed in Rockhampton. I had to say no. I couldn’t drive to Rocky and back two to three times a week.

“I know patients who have to drive to Gympie and Nambour for dialysis.

“I drive from Bauple to Hervey Bay and back and that’s 100km each time and I don’t get any government travel allowance.”

Mr Bull said “the dialysis crisis is there’s not enough beds.

“I am grateful for what I can get but I don’t really know from one visit to the next whether I’ll get the next treatment on time.

“Hervey Bay Hospital has beautiful bloody nurses who work their guts out and good doctors, including mine.

“The problem is with the state government.”

Mr Bull said once Maryborough voters had ditched Labor, the government had decided “to punish those who didn’t vote for them” so that’s people like me.

“Maryborough Hospital is full of people behind desks and not much else yet it would be so clever to open up some of the wards for things like dialysis.”

Mr Bull said he was so fed up last week he phoned Brisbane and spoke to the Minister of Health’s “liaison officer”.

“She said ‘We’re trying our very hardest to get everything going, Mr Bull’. But it’s not for me I rang. I was trying to get everything going for everyone else.”

Ms Norton said it wasn’t appropriate to discuss Mr Bull’s clinical needs in a public forum “even though we have Mr Bull’s consent”.

“With one in three adults at risk of developing some form of chronic kidney disease, the health service is doing a number of things to address this.

“It has recruited a full-time nephrologist as well as additional nursing staff and is working closely with the Central Renal Network and Fraser Coast Kidney Support Group to examine alternative service delivery methods.

“Some of the things people can do to reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease include not smoking, controlling their blood pressure, staying fit, reducing stress and drinking alcohol in moderation.

“If detected early, chronic kidney disease is treatable and patients may avoid having to undertake the extreme treatment of going on dialysis three times a week when their kidneys fail.”

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