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Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Paul McKean fears being caught in Queensland doctor saga

Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Paul McKean with his wife Janine, son Oscar,5, and daughter Kate,3, at their home in Brisbane.

Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Paul McKean with his wife Janine, son Oscar,5, and daughter Kate,3, at their home in Brisbane. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

As Queensland's doctors battle it out with the Newman government over contracts and conditions, patients have been caught in the middle.

Father-of-two Paul McKean, 43, has had cystic fibrosis since birth and is in need of a double lung transplant.

But as a former bowel cancer sufferer, Mr McKean, will not be able to get on to the organ waiting list until he has been cancer-free for five years. That's another 2½ years away.

Paul McKean contemplates the future.

Paul McKean contemplates the future. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Mr McKean said his doctors had discussed with him the possibility they may leave the public health sector over the dispute.

“The CF team that I come under is one of the best teams in the world with about 300 patients under it and if those doctors leave, what are we going to do?” he said.

“They're not going to find more CF doctors with the experience and skills these CF doctors have, so is out care going to go down or slip backwards?

“It's definitively going to affect us and a lot of people.”

Mr McKean said it took years to build trust and familiarity with the teams of specialists that had been caring for him since he was a child.

“I've been going to Prince Charles Hospital for 23 or 24 years and before that I was at Royal Children's Hospital, so they certainly do get to know you,” he said.

“There's a lot of trust. I can walk into the room and they'll know if you're feeling good or bad because of the way you look.”

If his trusted cystic fibrosis and transplant specialists were to leave the Prince Charles Hospital, Mr McKean said he would have to consider moving interstate.

“I've got a little boy who's just started school and a little girl who'll be starting school in a couple of years, my wife still works in Brisbane, so what am I supposed to do?” he said.

“It's not just affecting myself, it affects my family.”

A spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said Mr McKean's concerns were unfounded.

The spokesman said contingencies were in place for patients should specialists, as threatened, resign en masse.

“Doctors do have a strong commitment to their patients, as does the government, and we do not believe that the threats being posed by the union groups will be necessary and therefore they won't materialise,” he said.

The spokesman said the Hospital and Health Boards Amendment Bill, which passed in State Parliament on Thursday night, ensured doctors' conditions would be protected.

“Now, the only way a doctor's remuneration can be diminished is by another act of Parliament and that's not going to happen,” he said.

30 comments

  • The government still does not get it. The doctors would resign en masse, not as a threat, but because they do not want to be controlled by administrators in day to day clinical decision making. The constant attack by the government regarding unions etc just irritates them more, because unions really have nothing to do with it. Until the LNP wakes up to these facts, Queensland is heading for disaster.

    Commenter
    Bill
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    April 06, 2014, 1:39AM
    • We probably are not heading for disaster, just a completely new Government at the next election. I must admit I was one of those who voted LNP at the last election - I won't make that mistake again. Mess with my loved ones health options at your peril. I can only hope the result of the WA election this week end will encourage the LNP to pull it's head in and cater for the electorate for a change rather than the party contributors.

      Commenter
      Cringe
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      April 06, 2014, 11:35AM
    • The government knows exactly what it's doing. This is all part of the strategy for privatizing health services. Put the doctors into an untenable position, and paint the Union as the bad guys: a neat 2 for 1 strategy that has absolutely zip to do with better health services. They don't give a flying fig about anyone without private health services. Labor created Medicare, affordable health care for all Australians. Watch the LNP destroy it.

      Commenter
      Chris R
      Date and time
      April 06, 2014, 12:16PM
  • It is important that stories such as these are brought forward to highlight how much is at stake in the issue involving the state government. Individuals such as Mr McKean are easily pushed aside in a political dispute. The LNP may feel that his vote doesn't matter. Perhaps they have done their focus group research on this dispute but my feeling is that for every MrMckean there is a wife, parents, siblings, other family members, friends, workmates and neighbours who are all intimately connected with Mr McKean's battle over many years and who value the public health system and what it delivers to the public.

    I hope that Mr McKean continues to enjoy high quality public health care in Queensland and his health issues are resolved and that he doesn't become friendly fire in the government's lust for power.

    Commenter
    Ken of Brisbane
    Date and time
    April 06, 2014, 1:48AM
    • "the threats by the union"... Again, an attempt by Springborg and co. to spin their way out of this unholy mess they've created. The union IS the doctors. Deliberate sabotage of the health system by the LNP as the first stage of their campaign to privatize health services. Immoral. Disgusting.

      Commenter
      Chris R
      Date and time
      April 06, 2014, 2:00AM
      • The fact that the LNP spokesperson refers to "remuneration" means that either they still don't get it or they are being willfully deceitful. This is *not* a pay dispute. It never was. It is about ceding clinical control to QLD Health bureaucrats who make decisions based on fiscal policy not patient welfare. Take away the right to appeal unfair dismissal and then who can blow the whistle on unsafe practices? Employ overseas doctors whose employment is inextricably linked to their Visa status and who will speak up? This dispute is about doctors retaining clinical oversight, not the hilarious "union thug" spin the LNP is running with. Yes, those doctors and lawyers are a hotbed on left-wing rabble-rousers...please!

        Commenter
        Roddy
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        April 06, 2014, 2:39AM
        • Have you been a long term patient to know what you are talking about as I have been treated by many doctors there while dealing with medical issues & believe me the good doctors who care about patients aren't likely to leave because of politics. I say let them go & create space for caring doctors.

          Commenter
          concerned sufferer
          Date and time
          April 06, 2014, 4:31PM
      • This is a terrible situation that Mr McKean finds himself in. There are many others like him. Unfortunately, the quote from Mr Springborg in the last line of this article speaks volumes about the reason for the impasse. It's NOT about renumeration, Mr Springborg. It's about conditions!

        Commenter
        Judith
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        April 06, 2014, 6:05AM
        • LNP spokesman on behalf of Lawrence Springborg, your words that this government has a strong commitment to Queenslanders are hollow, empty and meaningless, and are words and phrases that you are required to spew forth on command. People no longer trust this government to act in the best interests of all Queenslanders.

          Commenter
          Marion says
          Date and time
          April 06, 2014, 6:38AM
          • this sounds a bit like a tactic the health minister would use to gather support for his lost cause I am sure that doctors who are very professional at what they do (yes you need to go to university and pass heaps of tests before you can become a doctor but any one can be a truth bending politician) they will not let there patients down not like a politician they just change there mind half way through a sentence.

            Commenter
            max
            Location
            Qld
            Date and time
            April 06, 2014, 6:58AM

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