Emergency sign at Nambour General Hospital.Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily
Emergency sign at Nambour General Hospital.Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily Iain Curry

CQ's rape victims deserve better as 'disturbing' gap uncovered

CENTRAL Queensland rape and sexual assault victims are being subjected to further psychological trauma after their attacks due to a "disturbing" gap in the medical sector.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry discovered the gap recently after a constituent raised concerns with her about the issue which identified that there is only one doctor in the region in the public sector trained as a forensic medical officer on the roster.

Ms Landry told The Morning Bulletin in an exclusive interview that she became gravely concerned about the rippling impact of the lack of trained physicians in the region to care for victims of "our society's most heinous crimes".

She said she had been told victims were being transported from Emerald, Gladstone and Biloela to Rockhampton Base Hospital for examination and treatment following their attacks.

Ms Landry said she had also been told stories of victims being left alone in hospital rooms for hours while they wait for examinations and treatment, with this causing some even more anxiety and leading to them leaving the hospital before examination or treatment.

There were 38 sexual assault cases through CQHHS Emergency Departments in the 2017 calendar year.

 

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Steve Williamson said any victim in CQ received the appropriate forensic examination at CQHHS hospitals.

"Over many years, private GPs, hospital doctors and nurses and other private clinicians have withdrawn from this vital local service," he said.

"In other areas both public and private doctors make up the roster, but currently in Central Queensland there is a single public doctor specially trained as a forensic medical officer on the roster and who can provide specialist advice to the other public clinicians who perform the service.

"There are doctors and nurses at Rockhampton, Gladstone and Emerald who perform these examinations, but in the smaller locations their availability depends on many factors (for instance whether they are in emergency surgery or out of town). This can require the need for the transfer to Rockhampton or another hospital, or a delay for the examination."

Mr Williamson said CQ Health was actively pursuing doctors and nurses willing to do the required training and provide the service.

"We would particularly welcome private GPs and private doctors willing to return to the service," he told The Morning Bulletin.

Ms Landry said she is calling on the State Government to act immediately to address this resourcing issue to look after these victims.

"This is not just a so-called 'women's issue'," she said. "Rape victims come in all shapes and sizes - men, women, boys and girls."



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