Health Minister Dr Steven Miles

November 27, 2019

An Office of Rural Health is being set up by the State Government as part of a Queensland Health shake-up to improve health services.

This follows the release on Wednesday of a report into Queensland Health governance.

“We want to give a stronger voice and more visibility to the issues facing rural and regional staff so they can better help their patients,” Health Minister Steven Miles said.

“The Office of Rural Health will drive rural and remote health planning, ensure improved access, patient quality and safety, workforce planning and reporting on health outcomes.”

Rural Doctors Association Queensland (RDAQ) president Dr Clare Walker welcomed the move.

“RDAQ has been advocating for this type of structure for more than 12 months and we believe it’s a positive outcome for rural and remote Queenslanders,” she said.

“It will ultimately benefit our patients as the Minister has committed to invest in central co-ordination for long-term workforce planning and training for rural clinicians. This will improve certainty for health services and rural Queenslanders.”

Dr Walker said the shift to a networked model would make it easier for doctors to cycle through regional and country hospitals, helping to address skill shortages and deliver more and better care closer to home for rural patients.

“This development should strengthen access across the whole public health system,” she said.

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Employment processes involving about 65,000 staff members within Queensland Health staff will also be updated.

“The current way we employ people doesn’t make much sense and can be confusing for staff and patients,” Mr Miles said.

“About two-thirds of doctors and nurses and other staff are employed directly by their local Hospital and Health Service, while the others are employed by Queensland Health.

“These changes will make it clear that all staff are united in their goal to deliver world-class health care under the one banner of Queensland Health.

“This will deliver better health care especially for regional Queenslanders and across the borders of health services.”

Acting Secretary of the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union, Sandra Eales, endorsed this change.

“For too long nurses and midwives have argued they should be employed by Queensland Health. Many work between multiple health services and the ‘prescribed employer’ arrangement can make it harder for them to get issues addressed,” she said.

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The governance report also endorsed the current decentralised model of health services led by local Boards responsible for service delivery and budget outcomes.

Dr Miles said other key recommendations in the report that would be addressed included:

  • Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation on all Hospital and Health Boards
  • Establishing stakeholder advisory boards to provide advice and direction regarding eHealth Queensland’s operations and Queensland Health’s system procurement function
  • Improving the governance of capital works planning and delivery.

The report was prepared after consultation with stakeholders including the Australian Medical Association Queensland, the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union, United Voice, Health Consumers Queensland and the Queensland Clinical Senate.

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