Is QLD Our Least Progressive State? Campbell Newman Cuts BreastScreen [UPDATED]

Hey Sunshine State? What’s up? I really like you, Queensland, but lately you haven’t been looking too flash hot; what with your axing of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards; your homophobic, socially regressive and culturally insensitive amendments to surrogacy laws; your pretty heavy cuts to public sector jobs and your ability to tick off otherwise pretty chill people like Katie Noonan, things haven’t been looking so crash hot lately. Not sure why that could be though…

We all really want you to get better, to lift your game just a little now that Tasmania is all of a sudden making the rest of us look really bad, but I’m not sure that axing your BreastScreen Queensland service in aid of cost-cutting is the best move on your part.

Premier Campbell Newman announced late last night (at pretty weird time for a major policy declaration) that the QLD State Government would be abolishing the statewide BreastScreen program, the first public screen service of its kind established 20 years ago, effectively compromising what is a recognised and respected statewide system affiliated with a nationally accredited program that might not survive at a local level.

Here are some statistics courtesy of The Courier Mail to put this decision into perspective:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women, the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer.

It claims over 3000 women a year, a death rate that can effectively be reduced through early detection (via screening) and treatment.

Said screening has reduced mortality rates in women aged 50-69 by 21-28% and has been responsible for detecting more than 60% of cancer in Queensland women.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg told The ABC that, “This is a process of devolution” – a sentiment (i.e. not evolving or moving forward, or governmental regression) you’d think even the most ardent creationist would take issue with.

I think we all get that there will always be cuts and amendments in line with changes in government and the demands of economies, but when those cuts actually reduce the efficiency of a vital health service that goes a great way in detecting a major killer in your state’s people, you’re no longer just playing around with cost effectiveness measures, but people’s lives.

Like a child learning how to use safety scissors, Campbell Newman seems pretty keen to cut anything and everything in his running of Queensland. And we all know what happens when you run with scissors.

Anyway, hope you feel better soon, Qld!

UPDATE: Health Minister Sprinborg has issued a statement reassuring Queensland women of changes made to the service. While the proposed changes do not constitute its abolition entirely, “functions of the program will be devolved to regions under the restructure.” So while the program won’t be completely cut, it will be dismantled and no longer be controlled by a centralised BreastScreen Queensland. If it ain’t broke though.

Photo by Chris Hyde for Getty Images