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Health Unit On Wheels Considered For Mining Communities

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Expressions of interest are to be called for a health service-on-wheels to deliver vital medical checks to coal mine workers throughout regional Queensland.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham speaking in Queensland Parliament on Wednesday said that bids would be sought in November for expert providers to deliver the service.

“The mobile unit should be equipped, staffed and on the road in regional communities by late next year,” Dr Lynham said.

Member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for State Development Julieanne Gilbert said the mobile unit would be an important service to “our thousands of current and retired mine workers where they live and work’’.

“Importantly, it will enhance the local specialist capability and make respiratory health checks available to more Queenslanders.’’

Dr Lynham said it remained crucial that any worker with concerns see their GP and for everyone to use the free respiratory health checks now available to current and past Queensland coal mine workers.”

This year’s Budget provides $1.21 million over two years for the mobile screening service, which will help improve the detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung), including silicosis and other mine dust lung diseases. This comes on top of nearly $25 million committed in 2017 to black lung health and safety reforms.

After three years of reforms, Queensland coal mine workers now receive free respiratory health checks when they start in the industry, when they leave, and at least every five years while they are working.

Free checks also are available for retired or former coal mine workers. More than 100 retired workers have applied for this service to-date.

All doctors and radiologists who offer health services receive specialist training and are registered, as are the X-ray imaging clinics.

An equipped and staffed mobile service - was recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and will supplement existing regional specialist services.