Prostate sufferer demands overhaul
A PROSTATE cancer sufferer has called for an overhaul of the Queensland health system after it failed to diagnose his illness and kept him waiting almost two years for a biopsy he never received.
Cliff Lawrence, 70, was referred to the Bundaberg Hospital urologist in February 2011, after showing early prostate cancer symptoms.
"(My doctor) told me I was expected to wait three to four months to see a urology specialist," he said.
But four months turned into 17 months before Mr Lawrence finally met the specialist, who told him cancer was a possibility and prescribed him anti-inflammatory tablets.
"I had dropped out of MBF in 2010," he said.
"Had they told me from the onset that I would have to wait 17 months to see a specialist, I would have rejoined MBF."
Meanwhile, Mr Lawrence's condition was becoming increasingly worse.
"Some days were so bad I couldn't get up," he said.
He had another appointment with a non-specialist at the hospital three months later and was placed on an elective surgery waiting list for a biopsy.
Mr Lawrence's daughters Angie, Kara, Shelley and their families intervened.
The sick man travelled to his family on the Gold Coast in November last year when he met a private urologist and oncologist.
Within two weeks, Mr Lawrence had received the biopsy, was diagnosed with medium level prostate cancer and had begun a treatment plan.
"In two weeks the Gold Coast pros achieved what Queensland Health failed to achieve in 91 weeks," he said.
The speedy treatment through the private system cost Mr Lawrence a mere $400 after rebates.
"My health, perhaps my life, was being jeopardised by Queensland Health's inattention," he said.
"Why is a biopsy considered elective surgery when it is part of a diagnostic process?"
Due to the late diagnosis, the cancer has spread to Mr Lawrence's lymphatic system near his spine and liver regions.
Mr Lawrence has called for an overhaul of Queensland Health's systems and processes, including a purpose-built accommodation centre in an area where elite specialists are primarily based, that regional patients can access when expedience matters.
A Queensland Health spokesperson would not comment on his case.