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May 27th 2008
Greens and Labor brawl over hospital beds

Yesterday, the Townsville Greens called on the Queensland government to honour promises made in the 2006 state election to boost hospital beds at the Townsville Hospital or face a backlash at the next state election.

"In 2006, Peter Beattie promised 100 new beds but omitted to fund the nursing staff to go with the beds; we have a now defunct coronary unit; we have heard that ambulance officers are forced to keep patients waiting on trolleys stacked outside the Emergency Rooms like so many crates of beer; we hear reports of people being sent home too early to make room for others, all outcomes which are clearly unacceptable" said Jenny Stirling, Greens spokesperson.

"Do we have to have some large scale industrial or military accident to ram home the point that we are being short sheeted when it comes to available beds? How can staff adequately attend to the needs of patients when they are hamstrung with a lack of a basic resource such as beds?"

But Member for Townsville, Labor's Mike Reynolds, hit back saying, "The Greens' scaremongering is pitiful, especially when they become the little Miss Echo of the Liberal Party a week after the Liberals launched the same erroneous attack on Townsville Hospital."

Mike Reynolds accused the Townsville Greens of, "Trying to ride on the coat tails of Liberal leader Mark McArdle in his grossly inaccurate allegations about the Townsville Hospital."

"Greens Spokesperson, Jenny Sterling seems to be mirroring the same inaccurate statements that Mr McArdle made a week ago.

"The Greens are absolutely unaware that 22 new Townsville Hospital beds have already been provided since the September 2006 election and Minister Stephen Robertson announced a tendering process for the remaining 78 new beds in late February this year.

"Ms Sterling's allegations about a so-called defunct coronary unit is again wide of the mark and is absolutely insulting to the hard working coronary staff who work at the hospital.

"Queensland Health is hopeful of announcing a new director to the Cardiac Unit in the very near future.

"Perhaps Jenny Sterling would have preferred to see the old Cardiac Unit still constituted and clearly putting patients lives at risk." claimed Mike Reynolds.

The Greens claimed that the three State Government Ministers representing Townsville have made no difference when it comes getting the government to commit to expansion of a facility that serves one of the fastest growing communities in Australia and the health needs of an entire region.

Mike Reynolds responded, "Craig Wallace, Lindy Nelson-Carr and myself have worked extraordinarily hard on the Cardiac Unit issues, the provision of the extra 100 beds and relief which is required for the Emergency Department to cope with the major growth that is occurring in Townsville and North Queensland."

To add your comment, see below

Greens and Labor brawl over hospital beds
jenny stirling
May 27th 2008
Good copy Mike except that I wasn't aware of Mr McArdle's comments and as readers will know, I am not in the habit of taking Liberal politicians seriously. The 22 beds may have been provided, (when an extra 100 were needed) but I'll bet the extra staff weren't. Typical of a government that addresses the surface issues but fails to make any real changes. As I remember it, this was the Labor government that spent more money on the upgrade to Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park) than they spent on this regional hospital. All in all, the saga of the Townsville hospital provides another solid reason why the federal Labor Government is considering take over the running of hospitals. I rest my case.

Jenny Stirling
Townsville Greens
David Bowtell
May 27th 2008
I feel that Mike Renolds is misrepresenting a whole raft if points here.

We are well aware that the townsville hospital is well and truly understaffed.... that is not an option that is up for debate, we are also well aware that the townsville hospital is also in a desperate bed shortage crisis...that also os not up for debate, we are also well aware that the QLD Labor gavoernment promised that the beds would be come available, I guess you might be able to debate if the labor governemnt has broken its promise, made the promise or even plan to maintain the facade that they are going to deliver on their promise.

We are also aware that it is irelevent as to whether Jenny Stirling was latching onto the coat tails of another polititian ... you all do that at some stage or another ... but I think it is a great point she is making. I too would like to know when the promised beds and staff will be made available to the townsville Hospital.
Mike Reynolds MP
May 28th 2008

It would be good if Jenny Sterling
jenny stirling
May 29th 2008
Readers will note that I have never impugned the staff of the Townsville for their level of expertise or care of patients. Everyone knows they do the best they can do in the situation. And 'reframing' the situation to look like I am doing that doesn't get you very far with me. I too am a social worker who knows how to turn situations around but that is only ethical when we are empowering our clients - not implementing managerial agendas of suppressing dissent. The figures you quote about increasing numbers of patients reinforce my assessment of the poverty of foresight concerning the future health needs of Townsville and NQ region.Furthermore, we and the rest of the community, are right to question the priorities of this government who have been in a semi- permanent state of denial about their responsibility for health care. I am glad if the government is finally making efforts to address these issues. It will be up to the community to decide if that response has been genuine and deep enough.
June 2nd 2008
Jenny Your comment "Emergency Rooms like so many crates of beer; we hear reports of people being sent home too early" clearly impugns both Ambulance Staff and hospital staff. No doubt many were offended by your view that their treatment of patients is callous and uncaring.
June 12th 2008
Having been "stacked up like a crate of beer" (well, nobody was actually stacked above or under me - maybe "lined up" would have been a better way to put it) waiting for a bed, and once actually in acute pain in a cubicle in the Emergency unit under a little notice saying "Stop pain now! Ask us how" for five hours before pain relief was provided, I don't much care which party has promised what, or how many patients are seen in a year - if I am ever unfortunate enough to need another Emergency admission, I hope and pray that the situation is now improved, and will continue to improve. The Emergency Dept. here is very good when it comes to dealing with immediately life-threatening situations, but up until now this has been at the expense of patients who don't come out top of the list when they go through triage, as both staff and available beds were inadequate.

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