$31m Rocky Hospital pledge means fewer flights to Brisbane
A $31 million election pledge by the Labor Party to upgrade the Rockhampton’s Hospital could remove the need for an estimated 1500 Central Queenslanders to fly to Brisbane annually for medical treatment.
Addressing the hospital’s gathered medical professionals on Thursday afternoon, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles, and Labor’s candidates for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke and Keppel Brittany Lauga, committed $18.2 million towards delivering a new cardiac hybrid theatre and $12.8 million for an expansion and refurbishment of the mental health ward, if elected – supporting 90 local construction jobs.
Following Bill Shorten’s failed bid to win the 2019 Federal Election when he promised to boost Rockhampton hospital’s cardiac and mental health infrastructure, Mr Miles said they were stepping up with this election promise to address the hospital’s key priorities.
“The Rockhampton region is experiencing population growth and we’re seeing the impact that is having on demand for health services in the region,” Mr Miles said.
“A new state-of-the-art cardiac hybrid theatre at Rockhampton Hospital will give locals better access to health services, closer to home.
“A hybrid theatre combines a surgical operating theatre with advanced medical imaging devices to improve patient outcomes and survival.
“The $18.2 million cardiac hybrid theatre will provide access to Level 5 cardiac diagnostic, implantation and interventional services for Central Queenslanders.”
Ms Lauga said a cardiac hybrid theatre for Rockhampton Hospital would significantly decrease patient transfers outside of their local community and improve their quality of life outcomes.
“The new cardiac hybrid theatre will establish diagnostic and interventional cardiac services at the hospital to support a wide range of cardiovascular procedures for Central Queensland.
“The project will also expand the Cardiac Investigations Unit by five spaces.
“Only a Labor Government will continue to invest in the frontline health staff and health infrastructure needed to ensure all Queenslanders have access to world-class health care.
“Our $31 million investment to expand the Rockhampton Hospital is also an important part of Labor’s Economic Recovery Plan, supporting 90 local construction jobs.”
Mr O’Rourke said the $12.8 million expansion and refurbishment of Rockhampton Hospital’s mental health ward would improve access to mental health care.
“This investment will deliver an additional six beds to meet growing demand for services and will also refurbish the existing space,” he said.
“The project will facilitate the provision of a recovery-focused service and a contemporary, evidence-based mental health model of care.
“It will deliver a therapeutic environment which will enhance client and staff safety and improve consumer access, engagement and satisfaction with the service.”
Mr Miles said since going into government in 2015, his government had hired 114 more doctors, 265 more nurses and midwives, 37 more health professionals and 29 more paramedics in Central Queensland.
“We have rebuilt the health services and frontline staff after the LNP cut them,” he said.
“When the LNP were last in government and Deb Frecklington was Assistant Treasurer, they sacked 197 staff from Central Queensland hospitals, including 41 nurses.
“Queenslanders can’t risk a Frecklington LNP Government which would only be able to achieve its goal of a surplus in four years by cuts.
“Only the Palaszczuk Government will continue to deliver world-class health care in Central Queensland.”
LNP candidate for Rockhampton Tony Hopkins sought to pour cold water on the announcement.
“Here we go again, Labor promising the world at election time, but never delivering.
Rockhampton voters can’t trust Labor to deliver its promises,” Mr Hopkins said.
“Labor promised Rockhampton an ICE rehab centre three years ago – and it still hasn’t even broken ground on the site.”
He said Labor should be judged on their shameful health record after five years in power.
“The waiting list for surgery has blown out by 52 per cent in Rockhampton under the Labor Government,” he said.
“We have over 1680 local people stuck on Labor’s waiting list for surgery, many are in chronic pain.
“The LNP will also invest an extra $10.7 million to clear the surgery waiting list in Rockhampton.”
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said after years of neglect, it was great to see the Labor Party was finally spending money in Rockhampton beyond pledging money for one stage of a football stadium.
“The announcements made today will be a great addition to the Rockhampton Base Hospital carpark, where I dragged the Queensland Government kicking and screaming to co-fund alongside the Federal Government back in 2017,” Ms Landry said.
“While surgery wait times in Rockhampton have blown out by 52 per cent under the Palaszczuk Labor Government, Steven Miles was too busy renaming hospitals in Brisbane.
“I back the State LNP’s plan to recruit an extra 2530 more nurses and midwives across Queensland, as well as 750 more doctors and 840 more allied health professionals.
“Only Deb and the LNP team will fix Rockhampton hospitals and give people the world-class health services they deserve.”
Rockhampton region Mayor Margaret Strelow warmly welcomed the announcement of a planned expansion for Rockhampton Base Hospital.
“The continued improvement and expansion of the services available at the Rockhampton Base Hospital reinforces our role as a provider of high quality health services for the broader region,” Cr Strelow said.
“We know that health services are a growth area and this expansion will provide long-term jobs, as well as a welcome boost to our construction sector.”