Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklinton has called the decision to put her specialist cancer nurse petiton on hold until after the election ‘unacceptable’. File Photo.
Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklinton has called the decision to put her specialist cancer nurse petiton on hold until after the election ‘unacceptable’. File Photo.

‘Unacceptable’: Deb furious at cancer nurse petition dodge

A PETITION calling for a specialist cancer nurse role to be reinstated in the South Burnett has been pushed aside, forcing 1500 signatories to wait until after the state election for a response.

Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington, said the response from Health Minister Steven Miles to the South Burnett Specialist Cancer Nurse Petition is unacceptable.

Mrs Frecklington said the Minister had chosen to use the excuse of 'caretaker' mode, and not provide any response to the petitioners.

"The South Burnett Specialist Cancer Nurse Petition was tabled in state parliament on 8th September, which gave the Government the required four weeks to provide a response," Mrs Frecklington said.

"However, as the response was due on the 8th October, which was one day after the election was called, the Minister has ignored the petition until the last day and then claimed caretaker mode as his excuse for not responding.

"This was a really important issue for the South Burnett, supported by 1,500 locals and they deserve to be shown some respect and not simply ignored.

"On behalf of those who signed and supported this petition I won't give up and will keep pushing for this service to return," Deb said.

With the election creeping up quickly, a caretaker period is a common occurrence. The caretaker concept acknowledges that each election could result in a change of government, and so the current leader generally refrains from making major decisions.

For this reason, Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said responses to petitions cannot be tabled during this time.

In response to the petition, Mr Miles said "in 2019 the cancer care nurse role in the South Burnett was expanded to become a generalist nurse navigator role."

"Nurse navigators are highly experienced nurses who provide expert knowledge and skills across specialties. A generalist nurse navigator can assist patients who have a diagnosis of cancer to navigate the health system, with the specialist cancer care team."

"The generalist nurse navigator will better meet the chronic and complex health needs of the community."

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government is always investing in more and better health services across Queensland, including delivering the $92.5 million new Kingaroy Hospital."

A Cancer Care Nurse Navigator role was operating in the South Burnett for nearly two years, and when the service ceased in 2019, patients were devastated to lose such as important service, which helped them to better understand and navigate the health system during their cancer journey.

The role will now be general and not specific to a particular disease. When the specialised position was made redundant, there were 76 active clients, with 10-12 new referrals each month.

"There are a large number of cancer patients in the South Burnett, with the number of people dying from cancer in Murgon, Cherbourg and Wondai 15% above the national average and 9% above the average for Kingaroy," Mrs Frecklington said.

"While I appreciate this new role is also important, cancer patients are telling me that they are very disappointed to lose this essential cancer specific service, which guided them through their cancer journey."

With the help of principal petitioners Eric and Carla Cross, more than 1,100 hard copy signatures and more than 400 online signatures were collected across the South Burnett.