Great news for CQ Parkinson’s sufferers

IT’S BEEN a long year of strong advocacy for Parkinson’s sufferer Robert Mills who has petitioned to have the voices of more than 600 Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast sufferers heard.

On Wednesday, he opened a letter from the Health Minister Steven Miles – and the news was “music to my ears”.

In late March, Robert and fellow advocate and sufferer Brenda Edgar invited The Morning Bulletin to discuss a petition they had in the works.

It was asking for better neurology services for Central Queensland.

At the time, Robert had been waiting for more than six months and it would be another five until his first specialist appointment since diagnosis.

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

The petition launched by the Rockhampton Parkinson’s Support Group soon after sought better access to treatment in Central Queensland.

July finally came and Robert headed south with his wife and carer Yvonne for the appointment.

They embarked on a 12-hour round-trip journey flying to Brisbane and back to be seen by a specialist for no longer than half an hour.

“We left Rockhampton at 10am 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,” Robert said.

In late August, The Morning Bulletin sat in on a meeting between Robert and Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke.

Robert handed Mr O’Rourke the petition with more than 900 signatures.

Mr O’Rourke seemed sympathetic as he listened Robert’s experience with the disease since his diagnosis.

The pair briefly spoke of the pros and cons of the State Government’s Telehealth system when dealing with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s.

Mr O’Rourke then took the petition and assured it would be lodged in parliament in the following weeks.

That same day, Robert was told negotiations were underway with a neurologist from the south-east to provide a visiting service after a meeting earlier that year with Keppel MP Brittany Lauga who made representation to Health Minister, Steven Miles.

Then came the waiting game.

Minister for Health Steven Miles.
Minister for Health Steven Miles.

Last Wednesday Robert opened a letter from Mr Miles in response to petition No. 3194-19, tabled in parliament on September 19 – his petition.

Mr Miles said he was advised by CQHHS that the Queensland Government had spent about $430,000 in the past two years on transporting regional neurology patients to Brisbane.

“The provision of a neurology service is one of the services that CQHHS is looking to offer at Rockhampton Hospital, as work continues on the development of the Rockhampton Hospital,” Mr Miles wrote.

“I understand Rockhampton Hospital is negotiating with a neurologist to commence providing services to Central Queensland in the new year.”

This was music to the ears of a man who has spent the last year fiercely lobbying for better services all while facing the terrifyingly unknown of a life with Parkinson’s Disorder.

“It will be a great weight off the minds of many Parkinson’s sufferers as well as those with other related mobility issues,” Robert said.

“Things are looking up.”

It is estimated there could be between 600 and 800 Parkinson’s sufferers in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast.