RFDS urged to change outback GP clinics decision

By Chrissy Arthur

There has been a call for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to reverse a decision to change the way it delivers GP clinics to Birdsville in south-west Queensland.

From April, Birdsville GP clinics will be run out of the Mount Isa RFDS base, as opposed to Charleville.

Diamantina Mayor Geoff Morton said locals were worried they would be evacuated in emergencies to Mount Isa or Townsville, where there was a lack of transport for people to get home and little family support.

“So they have a great family base in an easterly direction, so if they are evacuated from Birdsville and they are taken to Charleville, Toowoomba or Brisbane, they have that great family support and also we have a direct public transport route from Brisbane, Toowoomba, Charleville, so it is very easy to return to hospital,” he said.

He said there had been no consultation with residents on the issue.

“Well the problems goes right back to the start. These decisions were made and then we were told about them after the decision was made,” he said.

“It’s not what you want – it is this is what we are going to do.

“One would have thought it was better to consult with the local public before any firm decision was made and we would ask the RFDS to reconsider that decision.”

RFDS says moves promise an improved service

The RFDS said the move would save money but would also mean less clinic cancellations for Birdsville and an improved service.

Spokesman Chris Wimpenny said he would tell a community meeting in Birdsville tonight why the changes would go ahead but evacuations were intended to remain the responsibility of the Charleville base.

“If they do need emergency evacuations, they will still be going to the same locations that they are now,” he said.

“I think it is incumbent upon us to be able to deliver the best services we can with the amount of money that we have.

“The clinic services will be delivered out of Mount Isa, commencing on about the 9th of April this year.

“There is no intention for us to change the way that we do emergency ‘evacs’.

“Charleville base will still be looking after Birdsville and the south-west of Queensland for emergency evacuations.

“All that we have looked at is our clinic review. Mount Isa base would be the back-up in case the Charleville base would be responding to something else, as we do now.”