LNP Candidate for Maryborough Denis Chapman outside Maryborough Hospital. Photo: Contributed
LNP Candidate for Maryborough Denis Chapman outside Maryborough Hospital. Photo: Contributed

Hospital becomes battleground in Maryborough election

UPDATE: Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Debbie Carroll has responded in wake of LNP Maryborough candidate Denis Chapman's comments regarding Maryborough Hospital.

Regarding comments about the possible downgrade of the hospital, Ms Carroll said ""There is no intention to downgrade Maryborough Hospital into an aged care facility."

"There is, however, a plan to transform its current acute mental health inpatient unit into a specialist sub-acute older people's mental health facility, to address this specific need as our population ages," she said.

When asked about staff to patient ratios, she said "There has been no reduction in Maryborough Hospital's medical staffing. Since July 2019, extra  medical staff have been rostered on in the emergency department from 7am to 2am, seven days a week."

"Maryborough Hospital's emergency department medical staffing roster includes a Fellow of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (a senior staff specialist, or FACEM) rostered from 7am to 11.30pm seven days a week. An on-call FACEM staff specialist based at Hervey Bay Hospital supports the Maryborough ED from 11.30pm-7am."

"Since 2015, almost $20 million has been invested in upgrades and improvements to Maryborough Hospital ... this includes the $12.19 million upgrade to the emergency department, specialist outpatient department and main reception area, which was completed earlier this year," she said.

"We also constantly monitor demand and service provision, and plan for the future to enable us to meet the needs of our ageing and growing community," Ms Carroll said.

EARLIER: AS THE 2020 Queensland election draws closer, LNP candidate Denis Chapman has made bold claims and promises about Maryborough Hospital.

He said current doctor and nurse to patient ratios remained inadequate under Labor and flagged fears over the future of the hospital and the risk of downgraded services as the focus switched to funding the new hospital at Bundaberg.

"In my investigations into the present situation locally, I find that there is a shortfall of about 100 beds between the two Fraser Coast hospitals," Mr Chapman said.

"In the newly renovated Emergency Department in Maryborough there is a six-bed short-term unit, but once again no patient has been treated there because there is not the correct doctor, nurse, staff ratio to safely treat patients."

Mr Chapman said if he was elected, he would fight to keep current medical services at Maryborough Hospital and would like to see a medical inpatient unit for acute patients and a high dependency unit.

"The LNP leader Deb Frecklington has made a commitment to employ more doctors and nurses, 4500 across the state and I will be fighting for Maryborough to get its fair share of those," Mr Chapman said.

"The LNP has committed $300 million additional funds to fix that surgery backlog and to improve the health service delivery to this electorate."

Incumbent Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders took issue with Mr Chapman's comments, labelling them as "scare mongering" and "desperate."

Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders.
Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders.

"What is worrying me is the alarming stories he is putting out," Mr Saunders said.

When asked about plans to down grade the Maryborough Hospital, Mr Saunders said "why would we downgrade it," noting the recent emergency department upgrade, the return of a pathology unit and CAT scanner.

Mr Saunders said the ALP had plans to upgrade the hospital with a new car park, new roof and increasing the number of doctors.

He said Maryborough Hospital would need such upgrades to keep up with the new industries coming to the heritage city such as new rail works at Downer EDI.

Queensland Health has been contacted for comment and a response will be published when received.