Wide Bay's federal candidates have put forward their plans to ensure Gympie Hospital continues to deliver essential health services to the region.
Wide Bay's federal candidates have put forward their plans to ensure Gympie Hospital continues to deliver essential health services to the region. Contributed

With private hospital shut, candidates lay out health plans

AN AGING demographic and the loss of its private hospital has left Gympie facing an uncertain future for its health care services.

It is within this shadow the federal candidates fighting over the Wide Bay's seat have unveiled their plans to ensure the region's health care security over the next several years.

* The candidates for Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party and One Nation did not respond to the questions. Candidated have been listed in their ballot sheet order.

Daniel Bryar, Greens

Daniel Bryar, Greens candidate for Wide Bay.
Daniel Bryar, Greens candidate for Wide Bay. Contributed

(TO BOOST Gympie's health services, the Greens would) restore funding to the public system and start spending on capital works programs that lower our hospitals' operational costs.

This would increase available patient care facilities and decrease workloads of hospital staff, reduce wait times and lower the overall burden of adverse health conditions to the economy

(For aged care) the Greens would build 500,000 affordable, publicly owned homes across Australia, and 80,000 in Queensland.

Taking the pressure off the private rental market opens up more space for in-home care which is shown to be better for all involved.

Preventing widespread rorting of care services is also a critical step to adequate funding for all recipients.

We need a system that will give elderly citizens choice to stay at home or live in residential care.

Jason Scanes, Labor

Jason Scanes (Labor) Wide Bay
Jason Scanes (Labor) Wide Bay

I'VE had a lot of phone calls from people obviously concerned about wait times in the region.

Some of those smaller outlying areas around Gympie, like Kilkivan, Pomona, Tin Can Bay, etc. they've got significant wait lists of people trying to get in to see doctors.

We've taken away as part of these cuts about $900,000 from Gympie Hospital, we've seen the private hospital close, and we've got these smaller regional townships struggling because they've cut incentives to get and attract qualified doctors out to those areas.

Labor's going to make some significant investments in health care and aged care.

Cooinda staff in front of the new Hibscus building at Cooinda Ruth Marsh, Tina Redding and Emily Turner.
Cooinda Aged Care. Renee Albrecht

We're looking at $1 billion to fix up and fit out hospitals, there's $2.3 billion being invested into cancer treatment, $80 million for new MRI machines and 20 new MRI licences being issued to reduce travel, and need for travel for people who need scans.

We're also investing $2.8 billion into reducing wait lists and getting people into surgery quicker.

There's going to be some significant investments from Labor, and if elected, working with the State Government and a Federal Labor Government I'll be well positioned and to be fighting very hard to make sure that those services that people rely on in regional areas - those critical medical services - are delivered.

Andrew Schebella, United Australia Party

Andrew Schebella, UAP candidate for Wide Bay.
Andrew Schebella, UAP candidate for Wide Bay. Contributed

THE State should be held accountable as it is a state matter. Federally we have the ability to tweak legislation and the revenue received by the State, dispersed across the state and spend were it is needed, not on a very expensive tunnel in Brisbane.

Health care is a human right and both major parties in recent years have allowed the many areas of our health system to become challenged and impact on the well-being of all Australians.

We support private enterprise and know the value that private hospitals contribute to shouldering the choice and working alongside the public system.

(The United Australia Party will improve aged care by) revitalising regional and rural Queensland and Australia, giving an incentive to do business in these areas through tax breaks and tax incentives to set up and operate new businesses and expand existing businesses will help all sectors, including aged care.

As a government we have to create the right environment for things to come together.

Llew O'Brien, Nationals

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien. Contributed

THERE has been some good news (already) with the allocation of a full Medicare MRI licence to Gympie, which is expected to perform 3354 Medicare rebated services each year.

The Federal Government has listed more than 2000 medicines worth $10.6 billion on the PBS, and we've increased funding for Sunshine Coast region public hospitals, including Gympie Hospital, by 102 per cent, from $136 million under Labor to $275 million under the Liberal and Nationals Government.

The Government is providing more doctors and improving access to health services with our ground-breaking investment of $550 million for the Stronger Rural Health Strategy in the 2018-19 Budget.

I also welcome a new investment of $100 million to establish the Rural and Regional Clinical Trials Infrastructure Program which will establish state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment to provide patients access to advanced treatment options regardless of where they live.

Cooinda Aged Care offers a range of accommodation options for older residents.
Cooinda Aged Care. Contributed

(For aged care) I've worked to secure a $5 million capital grant for Cooinda Aged Care, and 721 new aged care bed allocations in Wide Bay.

Each extra bed means a local senior will be able to access care close to their loved ones, and can remain a part of their community.

The Coalition has increased funding by about $1 billion a year since 2013, including an additional $662 million for essential aged care services through the More Choices for a Longer Life program and a $562 million aged care boost in the December Budget update.

Tim Jerome, Independent

Tim Jerome
Tim Jerome.

THIS government has let down the region big time with the shutdown of its private hospital. A person in regional Queensland should not have to travel large distances to receive medical help.

The out-of-pocket expenses of travel and hotel accommodation to travel to larger cites put a further strain on the already lack of finances of middle-to-low income earners.

Gympie city can learn a lot from what is taking place in Cherbourg. The first thing I noticed in the hospital was there were not many patients.

I asked why and was told that most of the assistance is done in people's homes.

Gympie Hospital 150 years.
Gympie Hospital. Josh Preston

They have travelling medics to assist people in their homes.

The hospital itself is environmentally friendly and is more like a person's own home.

Gympie could operate the same way. The best way to get better faster is by being in familiar surroundings and close to loved ones.

(Regarding aged care) it is appalling that this government is not doing more in this area.

Both my parents have passed away recently.

It should not be the right of the rich who can pay for private aged care to receive the care they deserve.

My mother, who did not have a lot of financial means, received the basics, while the richer are looked after like kings and queens.

There needs to be more assistance to provide care for the elderly so they can stay in their homes as long as possible.

When they are forced to go into aged care or hospitals and leave their familiar surroundings they go downhill fast.