Qld minister mocks LNP over health data

·3-min read

Queensland's health minister has accused the Opposition of using old data to capitalise on well-known problems plaguing the state's public hospitals.

Yvette D'Ath has mocked the Liberal National Party for waiting three weeks to release documents obtained under right to information, which detail an overwhelmed ambulance service and hospital system earlier this year.

"They say it's explosive, they say it's secret data. But they themselves have sat on this for three weeks," she told reporters.

"We've just had a week of parliament ... and they have not asked one question about it."

Ms D'Ath said it was no secret that since March, there had been significant ambulance ramping issues. She said the documents the Opposition was sharing covered April and May, with May the month when those ramping issues peaked.

"We have had, since May to now, a 20 per cent reduction in lost time on ramps ...because of initiatives we have put in place," she said, including efforts to bring 461 new hospital beds online. Many have been delivered so far, but not all.

The tranche of documents from April and May showed patients in need of critical care waiting hours for treatment, a lack of ambulances, staff shortages and hospitals deemed to be "struggling" and "overwhelmed".

The capacity issues in the health system have been well documented in recent years.

In mid-September, the state's Auditor-General Brendan Worrall said Queensland Health was failing to meet its own targets for emergency department wait times.

But the issue of capacity is more critical than ever now as Queensland formulates plans to reopen its borders, expecting it will result in a wave of COVID infections.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young had this stark warning on Friday.

""We are - all of us - going to end up being infected with COVID. Every single person in Queensland," she said.

"But if you've been vaccinated it's highly unlikely that you will get sick and you're definitely very unlikely to end up in hospital or in ICU."

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said the LNP had spent the past three weeks "absorbing" the documents and talking to frontline staff about what they revealed.

He said it was absurd that the data had to be obtained through right to information, and he's demanded Queensland publish real-time hospital data, as other states do. But the government has refused.

"This culture of hiding documents has got to end," he told reporters on Friday.

"This government has been in power for seven years now and they've had over a year and a half to get the system ready for COVID. We've always been told it's not a case of if but when coronavirus will visit us.

"So if that's the case what have we been doing? I think every Queenslander's got a right to ask that."

The LNP has been going around the state holding what it calls town hall crisis meetings focused on regional hospitals.

Mr Crisafulli said the next one would be in Mackay, where the local hospital is facing a clinical probe after women complained about complications from caesareans. One doctor has been suspended.

He said the LNP's local member, Amanda Camm, had in the past two days received "explosive" new accounts from mothers, including some who "remain in hospital right now".

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