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Recruitment kicks off for Queensland’s first regional kidney transplant service

Published:  21 May 2024

The North Queensland Kidney Transplant Service is one step closer as recruitment for the life-saving service begins.

Nephrologist Dr Michelle Harfield said recruitment was an exciting next step as the Townsville Hospital and Health Service worked to deliver Queensland’s first regional kidney transplant service.

“Finding the specialist doctors, nurses, allied health staff and Indigenous health workers we need is the next step in bringing this service to life,” Dr Harfield said.

“Transplantation is a team sport and we’re looking for passionate and motivated clinicians to join our team and make a tangible difference in the lives of patients in north Queensland.

“We are looking everywhere for our talented transplant team from Condon and Kirwan to further afield in countries across the globe.  

Dr Harfield said the transplant service would address geographic inequality experienced by patients living with chronic kidney disease in north Queensland.

“North and far-north Queensland have higher rates of dialysis, but lower rates of transplant compared to the rest of the state and this burden is carried disproportionately by people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent,” she said.

“Patients living in regional and remote north Queensland sometimes reject transplant because they would need to travel to Brisbane for an extended time away from their families and community.

“Having this service in Townsville brings care closer to home and is a step toward achieving health equity across our state.”

Dr Harfield said Indigenous health workers would play an integral part of the transplant team, providing culturally appropriate care and connecting First Nation patients to public healthcare.

“The sad reality is that chronic kidney disease is overrepresented in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” she said.

“Not only do Indigenous health workers provide important healthcare but they also bring with them invaluable information about the culture, customs and beliefs of these communities.

“Indigenous health workers play a very important role in the work we do.”

Townsville Hospital and Health Service executive director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Amanda Cooms said chronic kidney disease was a serious and increasing health problem among Indigenous people.

“To deliver truly culturally responsive care we need to include the perspectives and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when we build and design our services,” she said.

“Indigenous health staff sustain good connection, rapport and trust with our people leading to reduced anxiety and better communication, attendance, and engagement in treatment.

“A number of Indigenous health workers will be recruited to the transplant service to support culturally safe care, and ultimately help address barriers faced by this group of people.”

Townsville HHS is developing the North Queensland Kidney Transplant Service at Townsville University Hospital.

It will be the first kidney transplant service located outside south-east Queensland and treat patients from communities across north Queensland including Townsville, Cairns, Cape York, Mackay, Mount Isa and the Torres Strait Islands.

Transplant surgeries will take place at Townsville University Hospital, but pre- and post-transplant care will be delivered at facilities across the region closer to patient’s homes.


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