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1 September, 2020

$52.9M Upgrades announced for Cairns Hospital

The Queensland Government announced today it will invest $52.9 million in stage one of a plan to build a university hospital in Cairns.


Major upgrades have been announced today for the Cairns Hospital

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said James Cook University and Queensland Health would work together on planning for the project, which will boost training, education and employment opportunities for the local health professionals of the future.

“Together with James Cook University (JCU) we will deliver a university hospital for Cairns, just like we did in Townsville,” the Premier said.

“While we kick start the plan to transition to a new university hospital, this $52.9 million investment will also go to vital upgrades at the hospital as part of that transition.

“This will include a major expansion of the Emergency Department and a new endoscopy suite and operating theatre.

“Not only will this deliver world-class health facilities for the region, but this investment will support a further 159 construction jobs which is critical for our economic recovery.

“As we unite and recover from COVID-19, we’re investing in projects that support local jobs and help jump-start the economy, which has been impacted globally.”

The $52.9 million investment includes:

  • $1.5 million for the preliminary business case to start planning for a research and training facility and additional beds to cater for future population growth
  • A $26.4 million expansion of the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department
  • $1.5 million to create a multidisciplinary pre-admission clinic
  • $2 million to add a new endoscopy room
  • $800,000 to fit out a 12th operating theatre
  • $20.7 million has also been committed to critical upgrades at Cairns Hospital which will cater for projected future demand on utilities at the site.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said alongside this investment in our current and future health professionals, the Palaszczuk Government was committing to delivering the infrastructure needed at Cairns Hospital to cater for the growing and aging population.

“Since 2015, we’ve hired 223 more doctors, 489 more nurses and midwives and 128 more health professionals across Far North Queensland,” he said.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy welcomed the announcement, adding a tertiary hospital would put Cairns on the health map. 

“Already we have a great health system here in Cairns, but it will be even better when we can welcome the future generation of health professionals to learn right here in the Far North,” Mr Healy said. 

“The $67.9 million will do so much for the community here and I am proud to be a part of a Government that delivers health care for Queenslanders no matter where they live.”

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the investment will help ease demand on health services in the Far North. 

“Cairns Emergency Department sees more than 74,000 presentations in a year and this number continues to grow.  Cairns Hospital is on par with other emergency departments in South East Queensland such as the Princess Alexandra Hospital and Sunshine Coast University Hospital,” Mr Crawford said. 

“This investment will mean a $26.4 million expansion of the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department that will deliver additional treatment and resuscitation bays as well as an additional procedure room to treat and discharge less-critical patients to help free up precious Emergency Department resources for those who need the most urgent care.”

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the good news doesn’t stop there with a $1.5 million project to create a multidisciplinary pre-admission clinic.

“This will improve patient flow within the hospital and reduce overcrowding as well as providing a dedicated space for tele-health pre-admission appointments,” he said.

“$2 million will go towards an additional endoscopy room that will enable an additional 734 patients to be treated each year and $800,000 will go towards a fit out of a 12th operating theatre that will increase capacity to manage trauma and elective surgery at the hospital.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said Queenslanders from the Far North and the Far West of the state would benefit from this upgrade.

“Living in rural and remote areas can mean having to travel for complex health care, just as health students from the region need to travel far for their clinical placements,” Ms Lui said. 

“Having Cairns become a university hospital will offer so many more opportunities for students living in North Queensland to live and learn closer to home.”

These projects will build on the infrastructure projects already delivered or underway in the region which include:

  • $70 million to enable a new three-storey state-of-the-art 53 bed acute care mental health facility at Cairns Hospital
  • A $70 million investment in Atherton Hospital for a new helipad and Community, Allied and Mental Health Building to open in September 2020 and construction of a new clinical building with an Emergency Department, Medical Imaging, operating theatres and wards
  • $12.9 million for the Cairns South dual-purpose health facility which can transform from a community health hub into an interim emergency centre during natural disasters
  • $5 million to provide a new CT scanner and expanded Medical Imaging Department at the Mareeba Hospital
  • $4.5 million refurbishment at Cairns Hospital to create a new 11-bed ward 
  • $3.7 million to deliver a hybrid theatre at Cairns Hospital for vascular surgery and cardiac imaging
  • A $2 million state of the art MRI machine installed at Cairns Hospital 
  • $1 million expansion of the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department including a fast-track area with four additional treatment spaces, four additional short stay beds and waiting area improvements. 

James Cook University Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding said the University would work with the Government on the business case to ensure that JCU’s purpose-built research and training facility is fully integrated with the Cairns University Hospital.

“Planning together from the start will ensure this facility attracts world-class clinical expertise to Cairns and provides an inspiring environment for students and staff,” Professor Harding said.

“We know from experience that training nursing, dentistry and medical professionals here builds the region’s health workforce.

“With this in mind, we aim to expand our full medical degree to Cairns – students can currently complete their final three years here – as well as offering pharmacy in 2021, with more allied courses to come.

“We are delighted to be working closely with the hospital and the Palaszczuk Government on delivering the Cairns University Hospital.”

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