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Dental clinic closure in Charters Towers.

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Hon Bob Katter MP Federal Member for Kennedy

Dental clinic closure in Charters Towers 10 February, 2006

Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter reacted with anger today to learn of the closure of the dental clinic at Charters Towers Hospital serving some 14,000 people.

The Oral Health Clinic has been without a dentist following the approval of six months leave for the clinic's dentist. The Health Department said there are no assurances that this dentist will return.

Mr Katter said concerns had already been raised by constituents who were forced to pay to go to a private practice unless they held a health care card or pension card. Even then the Government will only foot the cardholder's bill if it is an emergency situation.

"This follows closely on the mooted closure of Mareeba Hospital, closure of one of the three medical centres in Charters Towers and desperate doctor shortages in the Midwest and Gulf region,” he said.

"After some 20 odd years in the State Parliament, a third of them in the ministry, I find it is most extraordinary to have a government that not only cannot guarantee an electricity supply but it can't provide a secure water supply and can't provide essential medical care.

”The question is: what can it provide?"

One of the local dentists in Charters Towers stated that there was potential for the waiting lists to increase in length, adding that there was room for more dentists in the city.

Mr Katter said this turn of events follows the closure of dental clinics in Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek and Cloncurry.

"In Hughenden they are again without a dentist," Mr Katter said. "To make the situation worse, where people from Hughenden used to travel over 200km to see a dentist in Charters Towers, they now have to leg it a further 150km to go to Townsville because guess what, the Government can't provide one there either."