A north Queensland community leader says he is aware of hundreds of First Nations people being denied adequate medical care as an inquiry into three deaths in 2019 continues.

A coronial inquest which began Monday is examining the deaths of Betty Booth, Shakaya George and Adele Sandy who were allegedly denied adequate medical care at Doomadgee Hospital in north-west Queensland.

The three young Indigenous women had severe rheumatic heart disease and died after seeking treatment at the hospital.

In March the ABC’s Four Corners program reported on the circumstances surrounding the deaths and found that Doomadgee Hospital had a track record of failing to follow basic medical procedures and keep up-to-date records of some patients’ medical history.

Waanyi, Garawa and Gangalidda lore man Alec Doomadgee said the treatment of the women showed the health system did not care about the wellbeing of First Nations people.

“There have been hundreds turned away, and people have died as well,” he said.

“Many people have been beaten down by the system and they give up, a lot of our mob walk away from it.

“It happens that I have a big mouth and I never give up – for more than two years I have been telling the story.

“This is something we need to address and there are a lot of families out there that have not been able to do that.”

Mr Doomadgee said he hoped the fight for justice for Ms Booth, Ms George and Ms Sandy would help other families step forward.

“It’s hard to fight against a system that reports on themselves, that investigates themselves,” he said.

“I am pretty switched on but I too get frustrated and give up hope.

“Health does an internal investigation, maybe someone loses their job, but the system remains the same, nothing changes except the people running it.”

Mr Doomadgee was related to two of the women.

“If we are not putting the systemic racism, the institutional racism at the front and centre of this inquiry then the conversation is not worth having, because there is not going to be any change,” he said.

Ms Booth and Ms George were 18 and 17 at the time of their deaths.

The inquest is investigating the cause of the deaths and adequacy of health services provided by Gidgee Healing at Doomadgee and the Doomadgee Hospital.

North West Hospital and Health Service chief executive Craig Carey said the service’s staff provided high quality, safe and culturally appropriate healthcare.

“Community members are not turned away from our health services and our staff strive to support community members in accessing the healthcare that they need,” he said.

“The HHS is working with Aboriginal councils, health councils and other health care providers to deliver the services that our communities seek and value,” he said.

Mr Carey said the service was finalising a new health strategy in collaboration with healthcare stakeholders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and staff members.

“Our strategy is focussed on achieving health equity, identifying and eliminating racial discrimination and institutional racism and working with our communities to improve health outcomes for First Nations peoples.  The North West Health Equity Strategy will be published in September 2022,” he said.

The inquest will host two more blocks of hearings in Cairns in August and September.