Health Minister moved by women’s raw stories
FOUR women who have been waiting years for breast reconstructions after cancer will now get their surgeries after their powerful stories provoked Health Minister Steven Miles to action.
But one of them wants a full inquiry into why she was forced to wait eight years, and what happened to $4 million that was meant to clear a plastic surgery backlog three years ago.
Mr Miles said he had been personally moved by the plight of four Cairns women who have been waiting years for surgery at Cairns Hospital after they bared their souls and scars to The Sunday Mail.
He has now ordered the hospital to meet with each of the women to give them answers.
"My heart breaks reading the very personal stories of women affected by breast cancer," Mr Miles said yesterday.
"I've asked for Cairns Hospital to meet with these patients to ensure they receive their surgery as soon as clinically possible.
"Clearly those decisions need to be made by doctors in consultation with their patients."
His action follows the brave decision of Cairns mother Kate Yeoman to powerfully expose her scars as she spoke of her desire to "feel like a whole woman" again.
She yesterday welcomed the news for her and fellow Cairns women Dawn Riordan, Christine Dougall, and Vicky Buckley but said there were others waiting too long for important surgery.
"It's great news for the four women who spoke up but what about everyone else?" she said.
"What about the funds that were initially allocated to clear the waiting list - the $4 million?
"Is someone going to let us know what happened to that and where they failed?"
She said the health system had let them down but there had been no repercussions and someone should be held accountable.
Mr Miles said almost all breast reconstruction patients in Queensland were treated within clinically recommended times.
"Timings can be affected by a range of factors including readiness for surgery," he said.
Queensland Health allocated $4 million to reduce outpatient waiting times in 2017, including for plastic surgery.
The money enabled additional plastic surgeons to travel to Cairns to provide extra clinics for 124 women there to have their cases assessed.
It's understood that 20 of those requested breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, but some were not deemed eligible for the surgery due to factors including smoking and body mass index.