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. 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.