11 Nov LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘STUMPY’ A REAL-LIFE VICTIM OF OUR HEALTH SYSTEM
As an elected politician, a very big portion of my trade is dealing with issues, problems and, sometimes, very difficult stories of human hardship, suffering and loss.
A particular story, brought to me on the weekend by a local constituent, has not left my mind since – not only for the sadness, but also the senselessness of it.
So I write this letter in memory of the late Mervyn, ‘Stumpy’, Barratt, and his family who are in the grips of grief having lost their beloved father and poppy (all too soon) only a few weeks ago.
Had Stumpy’s family not visited my office last weekend, it is very likely this story – just like the stories of so many Queenslanders who have had similar experiences – would have gone untold.
Stumpy, who lived in Cloncurry and worked for the Queensland Government’s Department Main Road for 50 years, was 70 years old when he died on October 10th 2022.
In March, Stumpy took a medical turn at work and was taken to the Cloncurry Hospital where had had tests on his heart.
The Cloncurry Hospital referred him and he waited almost five months for a telehealth appointment, which he had in late July.
He was on extended medical leave for all this time, and thankfully he had worked up a lot of sick leave to cover this time off work.
In the telehealth appointment he was told he was very sick and, as he would receive a Category 2 to referral to a public cardiologist, he would be seen by a specialist in Townsville in no more than 90 days.
Five weeks ago on October 10, seven months after he first became ill, Stumpy was driving back to Cloncurry after spending the weekend in Mount Isa with his daughter Cassie and her family.
He came off the road, got himself and his dog out of the car and then collapsed – a doctor and a nurse happened to be travelling along the road and saw what happened, they stopped and gave CPR but couldn’t get him back.
Stumpy was gone, and his death is currently being investigated.
An autopsy is pending, however there are preliminary reports from the pathologist that he died from two heart-related conditions.
It’s likely that at least one of those conditions, perhaps both, could have been treated by prescription medication.
Stumpy’s family have been left devastated by his passing, and believe he would still be with them today had he received the medical care he needed when he first became unwell in March.
He is survived by his two children and three grandchildren.
We know that, when it comes to health, not everyone can be saved – but, within seven months, everyone can be given a cardiologist appointment in the hope they have a shot.
Stumpy Barratt deserved a better Queensland Health.
Queenslanders deserve a better Queensland Health.
Rest in peace, Stumpy Barratt.
Robbie Katter MP
KAP Leader and Member for Traeger