The exact format of Kevin Rudd’s proposed health boards has proven contentious for Health Minister Paul Lucas, with Wide Bay Health Service CEO Kevin Hegarty.
The exact format of Kevin Rudd’s proposed health boards has proven contentious for Health Minister Paul Lucas, with Wide Bay Health Service CEO Kevin Hegarty. ALISTAIR BRIGHTMAN

Speak up on health boards, Mr Rudd

IT’S not like them to be in agreement but federal Nationals MP Paul Neville and Queensland’s Labor Deputy Premier Paul Lucas both want Kevin Rudd to elaborate.

Mr Neville, the member for Hinkler, yesterday described Mr Rudd’s local health board plan as light on structure. He also called for more detail about the authority of the health boards or “networks”.

“If they follow the Goss Government Regional Health Authority format I believe they’ll be disastrous,” he said.

“Boards will need to be local, have a sense of community ownership and, like the health boards of earlier eras, have legislated statutory authority – anything short of that will just be window dressing.”

Speaking in Hervey Bay on Wednesday Mr Lucas, also the Minister for Health, gave the boards a lukewarm reception.

“No hospital is an island,” he said repeatedly.

“While it’s important to give locals a say in how their hospitals are run, we must remember that in the past mistakes were made while hospitals were run locally.

“We need to be careful about hospital boards. They will be limited in what they can do.”

Mr Lucas rejected the idea of health boards being in charge of IT systems or wage agreements, for example.

“School principals don’t decide what subjects or curriculums they’re going to teach.

“You can’t have a local hospital board throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Mr Lucas was adamant that a Qld hospital network should connect rural, regional and metropolitan hospitals and used the launch of tele health at Hervey Bay Hospital as an example of how the state’s hospitals could work together.

Mr Neville has expressed concerns about the future of the state’s smaller regional hospitals in the Rudd health reform plan, using Childers hospital as an example.

“They could be sidelined and have their viability put at risk.

“The Commonwealth will also need a new layer of public servants to administer the relationship with the local networks and after Anna Bligh pledged 100,000 new jobs for Queenslanders at the last election, she’s hardly likely to sack a swathe of her own bureaucrats.

“After all, the Prime Minister has said the state will have to choose the board or ‘network’ personnel.”



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