Qld black lung detection needs overhaul: review

A REVIEW of the current Queensland coal industry scheme set up to detect black lung disease has identified “major system failure at virtually all levels” and recommends a major overhaul, according to a draft of the report that has been obtained by the ABC.
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Lou Caruana

The review of the health scheme headed by Monash University's Professor Malcolm Sim – which is to be released this week -- found “major system failure at virtually all levels” with “clear deficiencies" and it's concluded "a major overhaul is necessary”

It identified cases like where mandatory X-rays have been incorrectly read and company doctors have failed to detect the disease while lung function tests, which can warn of the disease progressing to potentially life-threatening massive fibrosis, have also been seriously flawed.

The review found that the majority of the scheme's spirometry tests were conducted by unqualified staff, with nearly half the tests reviewed so poorly executed they were meaningless.

Two thirds of the spirometry machines had not been calibrated this year, according to the ABC.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth told the ABC: “Doctors haven't done their job. Radiologists haven't done their job. Coal companies haven't done their jobs.

“And of course the health surveillance unit and the Government, through its departments, have failed every coal mine worker past and present in this state.”

Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche also criticized the scheme.

“I'm really appalled that the system that we thought was working has let down our workers,” he said.

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