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Researchers and healthcare professionals have called for a Black Lung Centre of Excellence to be based in the region of Mackay – a one-stop shop for combating the disease.

Associate Professor David Farlow from James Cook University (JCU) said that the proposed one-stop shop model was developed through the perspective of “walking in the miners’ shoes”.  Miners could have a single point of contact for all research, clinical services and clinical governance under this model.

“Mackay has the capacity, resources and expertise to address the recommendations of the Black Lung review, as prepared by Professor Malcolm Sim, and is the logical base to establish a Centre of Excellence,” Dr Farlow said.

With a Centre of Excellence based in Mackay, miners would have access to:

  • the latest black lung research being conducted by the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM), based at James Cook University.  The first Black Lung Senior Research Fellow commences work in early 2017 and will collaborate with Professor Sim, who is based at Monash University
  • all occupational health and safety (OHS) related clinical services via either the private or public systems [or partnership].
  • clinical governance to ensure the Miners’ Clinical Pathway has a singular point of accountability to ensure all standards are met including:
    • radiology – production and interpretation of chest X-rays
    • performance of respiratory functions
    • data collection
    • training and credentialing of Medical Officers performing mining medicals
    • singular clinical pathway for access to Respiratory Specialists
    • ongoing screening

The model also has strong collaborative ties with support from AITHM, the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre, and major stakeholders such as the CFMEU, the Queensland Resources Council [Supporting Research at Mackay] and Professor Malcolm Sim.

“Importantly, this model is built on sound collaborative networks.  AITHM at James Cook University, is in the midst of appointing OHS research staff in Mackay, to be based at the JCU Clinical School, and the model has in-principle support from major stakeholders across Queensland.

“We trust that the Queensland Government will see merit in this solution and invest in healthcare solutions for affected mining communities here in Mackay,” Dr Farlow said.

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