HEALTH Minister Lawrence Springborg attempted to distance himself from looming cuts to health services in the West Moreton district during a visit to Ipswich Hospital yesterday.
Mr Springborg said he would not speculate on how planned cuts of $17 million would affect frontline services in the region and said the responsibility lay solely with the region's health board - whose chair was appointed by the State Government.
But the minister was happy to pose for publicity shots as he unveiled a state-of-the-art CT scanner at Ipswich Hospital, part of a $128 million expansion.
The QT has this week received a flurry of calls from Ipswich Hospital staff concerned their jobs are at risk. Sources claimed at least one senior doctor had quit over imminent spending cuts and that beds were being closed in bid to save cash.
But the West Moreton Health and Hospital Service acting chief executive Linda Hardy denied the claims.
Yesterday it was revealed that job cuts to health services in Townsville included nursing staff.
Mr Springborg said the government provided the budget to all hospital boards around Queensland and how they spent it was not his responsibility.
"I'm not going to get into speculation. It's a matter for the boards how they apply the budget," he said.
"I'm not sure what they have planned here (West Moreton) but certainly the point is in regards to frontline there are nurses and doctors who work in administration positions and that's what has happened in Townsville.
"The issue is it's about preservation of and favouring and expanding frontline service, but not everyone who you would think is frontline is necessarily working in that area."
A nurse who spoke to the QT said the morale was at an all-time low.
"Staff are frustrated with the changes that have been happening. It's really affected staff morale. You feel like you can't give proper care."
Bundamba MP shadow health minister Jo-Ann Miller said the health minister was responsible for Queensland's health services.
"The health minister should be up-front and honest with the people of Ipswich. If Townsville is anything to go by, this government will thrash and burn health services in Ipswich," she said.
Queensland Nurses Union secretary Beth Mohle said a union representative was told earlier in the month of the bed closures to ensure the hospital came in on budget. She said it was a similar story across the state.