Queensland Premier defends reshaping of hospital system
QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has defended plans to reshape Central Queensland's hospital system, but says "it was never our intention" to close Moura Hospital.
Last month communities around Central Queensland erupted into fierce protesting over rumours the government might close Moura and Eidsvold hospitals.
Eventually, the Premier gave a guarantee those hospitals would not be closed.
However, speaking in Gladstone on Tuesday, Mr Newman left no doubt some serious changes would be needed to make the system more efficient, including at Moura Hospital.
"The former premier (Anna Bligh) said Queensland Health was a lumbering, dysfunctional bureaucracy," Mr Newman said.
"So what did we do (after winning the election)?
"After years of people talking about these things, we wanted to empower local communities.
"This is our philosophy. We hand out power, authority, responsibility and resources to local communities because we think that is a better way to run a state like Queensland.
"So we set up 17 local hospital and health boards and there is one that covers those hospitals (in Moura and Eidsvold - the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services board).
"The people on those boards are from that community."
Mr Newman said it was a myth that his government had cut funding to Queensland Health.
He said the government had provided a "whopping big increase" to the budget of 7.8%, or $817million.
"Every hospital board has their share of that (funding), but what they have been charged to do is look at what is a dysfunctional bureaucracy and work out how to do a better job.
"We are not going to shut (Moura and Eidsvold hospitals). That was never the intention.
"But we do have to challenge how we provide health services to communities."
The Premier said that even if he planned to keep Moura Hospital open, it could not justify continuing to run in the same way.
"Moura needs a proper response capability there, but do they need 30-plus staff when they deal with one patient a day?
"That's the debate."