Region demands dialysis services

A GROWING elderly population in Hinchinbrook should be a “wake up call” for Queensland Health to provide dialysis services in Ingham, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

“Hinchinbrook residents, particularly those in the Herbert River District, are sick to death of being treated like second class citizens when it comes to dialysis services,” he said.

“Our population is not getting any younger and as far as I’m concerned, the State Labor Government and Queensland Health should be taking proactive steps now to install a satellite haemodialysis unit here at Ingham Hospital instead of playing catch up in a few years’ time when the demand becomes overwhelming.”

Mr Dametto said he didn’t accept the Townsville and Hospital Health Service’s rationale for not expanding renal services in Ingham, which claimed that only four patients qualify for satellite dialysis and travel from the Ingham region to Townsville Hospital for treatment.

Recently, Mr Dametto met with Queensland Health and policy advisors from Health Minister Steven Miles’ office to discuss how to move forward. A sticking point was the number of patients that are currently living in the Herbert district that qualify for satellite treatment.

“What hasn’t been taken into consideration is the number of patients that have moved away to be closer to the Townsville Hospital, those being treated privately and patients that have bit the bullet and paid for a home dialysis machine,” Mr Dametto said.

“We all know of friends and family in our community who have moved to Townsville in recent years to be closer for treatment, which includes being hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week. They wouldn’t have to do that if we had a satellite haemodialysis unit in Ingham with the appropriate support staff.

“That’s why I’m urging any Hinchinbrook resident who has moved to Townsville in the last few years or are being treated privately or at home to get in touch with my office, so we can collect the real data to understand the effect not having a local service is having on our community.”

In a Question without Notice in parliament earlier this year, Mr Dametto asked Dr Miles whether he would commit to working with the community to bring dialysis services to Ingham Hospital.

The Minister responded that he would be willing to work with the community on the issue, as well as Townsville Hospital and Health Service.

“Several local residents have raised the need for dialysis services in Ingham with me and I can say your voice has been taken all the way to the Ministers’ office. I will continue to work on this until we have the outcome our community deserves,” Mr Dametto said.

“For Ingham and Cardwell residents requiring life-saving health services like dialysis means a 250 plus kilometre round trip three times a week to the Townsville Hospital.

“Local community groups have shown interest in fundraising for these machines, willing to help jointly fund a local service but we haven’t even been able to get a response on a target we would have to raise from Queensland Health. It’s time the State Government stepped up.”

Mr Dametto vowed to continue fighting “for this critical health service”.

“The State Government has a responsibility to provide adequate health services to all Queenslanders and that is all our community is asking for,” he said.

“I will continue to work with Queensland Health and the Minister to deliver an outcome for local residents.”

Nick Dametto MP