'Hypocrite': MP slams health minister over Bowen CT scanner
BURDEKIN MP Dale Last has slammed the Queensland Minister for Health over the "delayed" installation of a CT scanner in Bowen, labelling him a "hypocrite" and calling for the project to be fast-tracked.
However, it's a claim Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles refutes, as he says the CT scanner is currently in the planning stages.
The claims come amid the projected mid-2020 installation of a CT scanner in Mareeba Hospital, near Cairns.
Mr Last said the Mareeba project, which comes at a cost of $5 million, is similar to what Bowen has been told cannot be managed for the same amount.
A CT scanner for the Bowen Hospital was a highly debated issue at the federal election this year, with both major parties pledging election commitments.
In the lead up to the election, potential Dawson Labor candidate Belinda Hassan had announced the commitment of $9.6 million following a commitment from current Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen, of $5 million.
At the time, Labor claimed the Federal Government's funding commitment was only half of what was required, but Labor's commitment would cover the scanner and the infrastructure required to house the equipment.
Mr Last said a year after the call went out from concerned residents, Minister for Health Dr Steven Miles had run out of excuses and had been caught out trying to mislead the people of Bowen.
"In the lead up to the federal election, Minister Miles said the $5 million contribution from the Federal Government wasn't enough for the facility but he's been caught out this time," Mr Last said.
"The current government wants the people of Bowen to believe the $5 million that the Federal Government generously provided for the equipment is not enough but the Minister himself is promoting a $5 million project in Mareeba that includes a new scanner.
"It's either a case of the government saying Bowen doesn't deserve a CT facility or it's the government delaying the project by trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
"To rub salt into the wound, the Mareeba facility will be fully operational by mid-2020 and here we are, in Bowen, with no commitment or date for when this scanner will be installed."
However, Dr Miles refuted the claim saying the CT scanner is currently in the planning stages with Mackay Base Hospital Services.
"Dale Last knows you can't just put a CT scanner in any old spare space," Dr Miles said.
"Building upgrades are required to ensure a new machine would be safe and accessible.
"The cost for a CT scanner at Bowen Hospital needs to include both the cost of equipment and the associated infrastructure works.
"Dale Last should ask his federal LNP mates why they only committed half the funding required for Bowen Hospital's project, while they have fully funded projects in other states?"
Mr Last said the "hypocrisy shown by the Health Minister was an insult to the 800 people who undertook a four-hour round trip for CT scans each year" and said it was an insult to the wider Bowen community.
"This isn't about saying Mareeba shouldn't have their CT facility, it's about ensuring that the people of Bowen get first-class medical services instead of being treated as second-class citizens," Mr Last said.
"What we have currently is a minister and, in fact, a state government that lets funding from the Federal Government sit on the table while people with injuries and medical conditions like cancer have to drive hours for basic medical services."
Mr Last has launched a petition asking for the Bowen CT facility to be fast-tracked, which is available on his Facebook page.