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Telehealth network expanded in show and tell

Lawrence SpringborgBrisbane 26 July 2013. The expanded telehealth network promised in this year’s State Budget was put to the test today, with health officials in Brisbane, Alpha and Boulia meeting with media via telehealth.

From Alpha in central west Queensland, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced to media in Kedron the seven evaluation sites for the expansion of the telehealth service, with the Central West Hospital and Health Board dialling in from Boulia.

“This government is committed to improving the health outcomes and services accessible by people in rural and remote Queensland, which is shown in our rural revitalisation package worth more than $82 million, including the $30.9 million telehealth service,” Mr Springborg said.

“Telehealth provides better access to health care and reduces the burden associated with travelling and waiting for a specialist, and today I am happy to announce that Alpha, Eidsvold, Moura, Kowanyama, Normanton, Roma and Bedourie will be able to share in this fantastic technology.”

Mr Springborg said the Rural Telehealth Service, worth $30.9 million over four years, would give local residents in participating facilities access to specialist doctors in Queensland’s best hospitals without the need to travel.

“Telehealth will feature strongly in the future delivery of healthcare in regional and rural Queensland, and that is why this government has invested so strongly in the network,” he said.

Mr Springborg said the move towards better use of technology in rural areas was supported by clinicians.

“Just this week, Dr Bruce Chater and Dr Ewan McPhee presented me a discussion paper on telehealth. I know they support it and are behind the government’s investment in it.”

Mr Springborg said Queensland had one of the largest managed telehealth networks in Australia with more than 1,500 systems deployed in over 200 hospitals and community facilities.

“Utilising and expanding this network will transform the way some services are delivered in these communities and will create a new generation of care.”

“These seven new sites are just the first step in ensuring Queenslanders, regardless of where they live, can access high quality healthcare in a more timely fashion.”

Mr Springborg said today’s announcement meant another objective set out in the Blueprint for better healthcare in Queensland had been delivered.

“We are getting on with the task of improving health outcomes for all Queenslanders and transforming the health system into one that is reliable, sustainable, and innovative,” he said.

Other rural health initiatives:

  • Development of a draft Rural and Remote Health Service Framework and Planning Process
  • $51.9 million for enhanced ambulatory and primary health care models
  • $45.9 million to upgrade and improve rural health facilities
  • Mental health initiatives for communities affected by floods
  • A share in $327 million for the Backlog Maintenance Program
  • Amalgamation of three service agreements into one Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Health and the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS)
  • 50 new midwives for rural and regional areas and 105 new rural graduate nursing positions
  • Re-introduction of maternity services at some regional hospitals such as Beaudesert Hospital

[ENDS] 26 July 2013