Deputy Premier Steven Miles
Deputy Premier Steven Miles

Special medical unit to ease border angst

QUEENSLAND will set up a special unit to help doctors and patients contending with border restrictions to transfer across state lines for medical care.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had directed Deputy Premier Steven Miles and departments to set up the unit to deal with specialist appointments in a co-ordinated fashion following community anger over people who have been denied care in Queensland.

The announcement follows a Tweed Heads boy missing a potentially lifesaving check-up at the Prince Charles Hospital following a recent double lung transplant and the case of a Ballina woman who lost a twin baby after being transferred to Sydney instead of Brisbane.

"I've seen some reports today of a young boy who had an appointment at the Prince Charles and can I say this is a very difficult time for people, it is a very emotional time for people and what I've asked the Deputy Premier as Health Minister and also the departments to do is actually set up a unit where they can deal with these specialist appointments in a co-ordinated manner," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"I also want to have a social worker working in that unit as well because it is a very distressing time for families.

Grieving couple Kimberley and Scott Brown from Ballina.
Grieving couple Kimberley and Scott Brown from Ballina.

"And of course it is going to be like this for some time because our borders are closed to protect the health of Queenslanders.

"But we are not going to deny emergency treatment to the people of NSW."

She said the cases would be co-ordinated and then prioritised to the Chief Health Officer, who grants exemptions.

"By setting up this co-ordinated response by the end of the week, I actually think it will help alleviate a lot of concern," the Premier said.

Mr Miles said most medical exemptions were being granted unnoticed, but he acknowledged there had been a "small proportion" of problematic cases.

"They are too many and so we want an escalation process so they can be very quickly addressed," he said

" … We've said we want to do better and so we've been discussing how we may be able to do that, how we might be able to make sure we have clinicians empowered and in charge of providing advice more quickly to the Chief Health Officer when that's required and that's what we're putting in place."


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