Yvonne Mills, Robert Mills, Brenda Edgar, John Edgar
Yvonne Mills, Robert Mills, Brenda Edgar, John Edgar JACK EVANS

CQ Parkinson's sufferers make progress in push for services

PARKINSON'S sufferer Robert Mills sat patiently in the waiting room for his meeting with Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, in his hands, a black folder with a petition boasting more than 900 signatures.

His name may ring a bell. The Morning Bulletin met him and fellow sufferer Brenda Edgar at his Norman Gardens home on the eve of the petition launch in late March.

The pair are among the group of Central Queenslanders battling the neurological disorder and they have banded together to form the Rockhampton Parkinson's Support Group.

What they want is better neurology services for the people in Rockhampton and Central Queensland, preferably with a specialist based at Rockhampton Hospital.

In July, Mr Mills and his wife Yvonne had to fly to Brisbane for his first specialist appointment after waiting more than a year to be seen.

Mr Mills said his appointment lasted no longer than half an hour.

His flights were covered by the Queensland health system but he said after taxi transfers to and from the airport, meals and other expenses, they were about $200 out of pocket.

"We left Rockhampton at 10am in the morning and arrived home the same day at 9pm, exhausted and the worse for wear especially as my medication had worn off and neither my wife nor I are young any more,” Mr Mills said.

Robert Mills handing over a petition for greater neurology services to Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke
Robert Mills handing over a petition for greater neurology services to Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke JACK EVANS

Once settled in Mr O'Rourke's office, Mr Mills told the local member what he expected.

"What we're doing now is putting this in your hands, you know all of the processes from here,” Mr Mills said.

Mr O'Rourke appeared sympathetic to the plight and said the petition would be lodged at the parliamentary sitting in two weeks.

"It's such an important issue, there is no doubt about that,” Mr O'Rourke reassured Mr Mills.

Mr Mills said if this petition failed to yield results, he would be knocking on doors and doing the same again next year.

Mr O'Rourke saw it as a good opportunity to ask what Mr Mills thought of the Telehealth service, which gives regional patients access to specialist healthcare, reducing the need to travel for specialist advice.

"Are they suitable for people with Parkinson's,” Mr O'Rourke asked.

"Not really,” Mr Mills replied.

He said his condition was one he felt often required a physical assessment - not possible through the constraints of the Telehealth service.

He also said for some people, especially the elderly, the technology also presented other issues with the service.

Mr O'Rourke welcomed Mr Mill's feedback and conceded said "Telehealth works well for some illnesses and for others it doesn't”.

At the end of the meeting, Mr O'Rourke said "the more specialists we have in Queensland, the less patients travel” to which Mr Mills couldn't have agreed more after his ordeal in July.

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga Steph Allen

The RPSG and a contingent of Capricorn Coast Parkinson's sufferers also made representations to the Keppel MP Brittany Lauga earlier this year.

She presented the issue to the Health Minister Steven Miles in June.

Ms Lauga said she was told by Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services in July the Rockhampton Hospital was in negotiations with a neurologist from the South East to commence a visiting public service.

CQHHS was hopeful the service would commence in late 2019 to 2020.

Mr Mills was unaware of the news but when told, he was delighted to hear of the development.

"This is excellent news, and a lot of people will benefit from this,” he said.