Health ser­vice ac­cess con­cerns

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Perera

Tom Price res­i­dents are frus­trated over a lack of ac­cess to spe­cialised health ser­vices, es­pe­cially for chil­dren’s health in town, which they say is caus­ing long de­lays of months and even sev­eral years.

Tom Price res­i­dent Jade Creevey at­tracted strong com­mu­nity sup­port with a Face­book post last week about the lack of specialist ser­vices in the town.

Ms Creevey, a mother of two boys aged four and seven who have needed ac­cess to chil­dren’s health spe­cial­ists, said a lot of ser­vices pre­vi­ously avail­able in town, in­clud­ing a reg­u­larly vis­it­ing pae­di­a­tri­cian, child health nurse, speech therapist and oc­cu­pa­tional therapist, had been sig­nif­i­cantly “rolled back” over the past few years,

She said she’d had an oc­cu­pa­tional therapist re­fer­ral for two years now, while an ap­point­ment for her son’s re­quired im­mu­ni­sa­tions had been pushed back months.

“My four-year-old needed his fouryear-old nee­dles for Oc­to­ber/ Novem­ber. Since then, we’ve been booked in and can­celled twice be­cause the (child) health nurse hasn’t come up,” she said. “He’s now four months over­due. “The (hos­pi­tal staff) said they can per­son­ally do it, but (chil­dren) are meant to see the health nurse. And that’s for a four-year-old. Not to men­tion women in town with new ba­bies.”

Ms Creevey said the lack of specialist ser­vices seemed to be mainly in the area of chil­dren’s health, which was es­pe­cially wor­ry­ing be­cause young fam­i­lies made up a large pro­por­tion of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion.

She said trips to Kar­ratha, Hed­land or other Pil­bara towns to see spe­cial­ists could re­quire a two-day trip, and she knew of fam­i­lies who had left or were con­sid­er­ing leav­ing Tom Price.

“I’ve got two friends who have moved their fam­i­lies away be­cause they had lim­ited ac­cess to these sorts of ser­vices,” she said. “One had a child with autism, they needed to see a reg­u­lar specialist … and I know of a cou­ple more fam­i­lies in town who do have autis­tic chil­dren, but they spend a for­tune go­ing to Perth try­ing to get treat­ment for their chil­dren.”

WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice re­gional di­rec­tor Ron Wynn said the Tom Price com­mu­nity had ac­cess to a lo­cal GP, phys­io­ther­apy, speech pathol­ogy and child-health ser­vices.

He said a range of other med­i­cal and nurs­ing ser­vices also vis­ited on a monthly or bi-monthly ba­sis, in­clud­ing pae­di­atrics, ob­stet­rics, al­lied health care, child health care and sur­gi­cal ser­vices.

“All ef­forts are made to en­sure peo­ple in Tom Price can be seen by the re­quired health ser­vice within the rec­om­mended time,” he said. “If this is not pos­si­ble, a clinic is can­celled or a spe­cific ser­vice is not of­fered in Tom Price, pa­tients are in­formed and may be re­ferred to Perth by their GP, with the sup­port of the Pa­tient As­sisted Travel Scheme if it is an el­i­gi­ble med­i­cal specialist ser­vice.”

“Pro­vid­ing ser­vices in ru­ral and re­mote set­tings can be chal­leng­ing and ser­vices are con­tin­u­ally mon­i­tored and ad­justed to meet the needs of the com­mu­nity as best as pos­si­ble.”

Mr Wynn said WACHS was con­tin­u­ing to re­cruit to fill va­cant po­si­tions.

Shire of Ash­bur­ton pres­i­dent Kerry White said the Shire sup­ported at­tempts to im­prove lo­cal health­care ser­vices as much as pos­si­ble.

“All res­i­dents of Ash­bur­ton de­serve to have a rea­son­able level of ac­cess to health ser­vices ... his­tor­i­cally, the health ser­vices across all of the Ash­bur­ton com­mu­ni­ties have been less com­pre­hen­sive and less avail­able than for the com­mu­nity of Perth,” she said.

“While the Shire ac­cepts that all ser­vices can’t al­ways be pro­vided in all of our com­mu­ni­ties, wher­ever it is pos­si­ble to be done, it should be.”

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