Tonsil removal not an option at local hospital

SOPHIE Hetherington's family can't understand why their nine-year-old can't have her tonsils removed at Gladstone hospital.

Constant sore throats have plagued the little girl for the past few months, intensified recently by a bout of Ross River fever.

Her mum, Kelly Hetherington, said she, as a 16-year-old, had had the operation performed in Gladstone, and that was almost 20 years ago.

"I'm not sure why the health system is not progressing," she said. "She's been so good about everything, though.

"I just keep telling her to wait just a little bit longer."

Grandfather Derick Hetherington said he found it difficult to believe such a simple surgery could be so onerous.

"This to me seems like an eternity for a child," he said.

"She is suffering all the time from a sore throat and other ailments.

"I seem to remember when tonsils where removed, parents would try and time it for the school holidays so the child didn't miss too much school.

"There is no way it can be timed now three or four years in the future."

The family has decided to "go through the private system and pay for it ourselves".

But having the surgery in Bundaberg will mean time away from work, accommodation there for two weeks, time off school and work and time away from their family.

SIMPLE PROCEDURES: Derick Hetherington is frustrated that simple procedures cannot be done at Gladstone Hospital.
SIMPLE PROCEDURES: Derick Hetherington is frustrated that simple procedures cannot be done at Gladstone Hospital. Luka Kauzlaric

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Len Richards said while tonsillectomies were not able to be performed in Gladstone, it was on the horizon.

"Gladstone Hospital is in an exciting period of growth and many more services will be introduced in the near future, thanks to a successful recruitment campaign to hire new specialists, industry-funded upgrades to the operating theatre suite and high-dependency unit and health service investment into the hospital," he said.

"While ear, nose and throat surgery is not currently offered in Gladstone, Rockhampton is the major referral hospital for Central Queensland, and no patient is waiting longer than recommended for their tonsil surgery."

Mr Richards said central Queensland hospitals would continue to work in close conjunction with one another to deliver a comprehensive list of services.

He said it was an ever-present commitment of Queensland Health services to continue to improve services.

Regional comparison:

Bulli, NSW: Population: 5453, tonsillectomies: 62

Orange, NSW: Population: 31,970, tonsillectomies: 180

Bathurst, NSW: Population: 33,110, tonsillectomies: 50

Dubbo, NSW: Population: 32,327, tonsillectomies: 185

Gladstone, Qld: Population: 57,882, tonsillectomies: 0

Topics:  central queensland health service gladstone hospital health tonsils

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