Community & Business

27 September, 2023

Crisafulli puts health concerns in spotlight

DESPITE praise for hospital staff, locals have spoken out about the ongoing issues they face when trying to access essential health services in the region.

Locals gathered at the Jackaroo Motel in Mareeba to express their concerns regarding health services.
Locals gathered at the Jackaroo Motel in Mareeba to express their concerns regarding health services.

From dialysis, ramping, general practitioner shortages and constant  internal political issues, Opposition Leader Mr David Crisafulli, alongside Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates, spoke out about the “collapse” of Queensland Health and their plans to help bring the power back to doctors and nurses. 

“We are determined to shine a light on our broken system, and we are determined to listen to every Queenslander and take their fight to parliament,” Mr Crisafulli said. 

“We have listened to front-line health staff and listened to patients, and we will continue to put forth the solutions to heal the Queensland Health crisis.

“We want better resources, better triaging, sharing data in real-time and above all, to put doctors back in charge.”

Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates said Queenslanders deserve a world-class health system no matter where they live. 

"In 2023 Queenslanders from the Cape to Currumbin should have access to essential services," she said.  

"The Town Hall shows Mareeba residents and locals in surrounding communities are being left behind.”

Local man Tom Sielaff was the first to share his story during the meeting, showing Mr Crisafulli and Ms Bates a large lump on his stomach – the result of a major gallstone surgery.

He said the lump has caused a significant amount of pain and discomfort for him but has been put on the “backburner” by Queensland Health.

“I had a gallstone that was so huge it popped through my stomach and popped my intestine. I was in really bad shape when I was in the hospital, and I was basically told to put a mask on and take a seat,” he said. 

By the time they got to see Mr Sielaff, he was immediately taken to Cairns Hospital and rushed into surgery. 

Still on the waitlist, Mr Sielaff  hasn’t received any treatment or genuine diagnosis for the lump on his stomach, but Ms Bates assured him he would be seen as soon as possible, taking his name down to action the next stages in his health journey. 

“It is sad that you have to come to us or to the media actually to receive the care you need,” Ms Bates said.

Community advocate Denis McKinley also spoke up during the meeting, expressing his concern for the politics surrounding the local hospitals and the lack of doctors on the board. 

LNP candidate for Barron Yolonde Enstch echoed Mr McKinley’s concern to Mr Crisafulli and Ms Bates, stating that the board for Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services only had one doctor on the board.

“We need to give the power back to our doctors and have them on the board … not mates of the Labor government,” Mr Crisafulli said. 

Mr McKinley also spoke on dialysis treatments and how Mareeba Hospital still hasn’t got a dialysis machine, yet, he stated, Lotus Glen Correctional Centre does. 

Spending years advocating and fundraising for a machine alongside Ross Cardillo, Mr McKinley said there are still no local options for dialysis. 

“We are the only level three hospital without a dialysis machine,” he said.

“We asked for donations from people to help get a dialysis machine in Mareeba Hospital. 

“We got the money and were all ready to get the unit, but then they (Queensland Health) decided to buy a van to take them up to Mossman or Cairns.”

Ms Bates said she was disappointed in the response to “go to Cairns” for dialysis after seeing herself how many chairs were filled and the pressure it put on the Cairns clinic.

She said she saw a significant over-representation of First Nations people in the clinic and has spoken to people who would prefer to “just wait to die” because they had no access to treatment. 

Ross Cardillo and Louise Livingston also spoke on behalf of Mareeba Communities Family Health Care, welcoming the opposition to look at the work they have done to help bring new GPs into the region, and establish the Black Cockatoo Foundation in honour of Dr Mark Bestmann and also advocate for the community’s health needs.

Anyone who is on a waiting list and wants to share their story can email


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