Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cairns Base Hospital funding | a festering thorn for Bligh Government

Cairns doctors call for more funding for health services in the Far North

Tarina White
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
© The Cairns Post

CAIRNS doctors are urging the State Government to give more money to health services in the Far North after Townsville Hospital received millions of dollars for a new paediatric intensive care unit.

Dr Sandy Donald said Cairns Base Hospital was critically underfunded and the latest health dollars for Townsville further widened the gap in medical care offered in the two cities.

"People in Far North Queensland do not have the same access to services as people in Townsville or Brisbane because of the lower funding to our hospital," he said. "We feel like we’re forgotten North Queensland. It’s an overwhelming frustration."

Premier Anna Bligh announced recurrent funding for the new paediatric intensive care unit in Townsville was estimated to be $8.75 million over the next two years. The new unit was expected to open in July with two paediatric beds with a goal of expanding to eight beds. Dr Donald said the new facility was a bonus for the region, but he would like the State Government to provide a funding commitment for services that were desperately needed in Cairns, including neurosurgery, a second neurologist and urology.

Senior Medical Staff Association president Dr Peter Boyd said doctors were frustrated that Cairns Base was in the second tier for funding, while Townsville Hospital was in the top tier, despite comparable population catchment areas and workloads.

He said putting Cairns Base Hospital in the top tier would potentially allow a further $50 million to flow into hospital services. "Across most fields we’re under-resourced," Dr Boyd said.

Health Minister Geoff Wilson said Cairns Base Hospital was undergoing a $454 million redevelopment and received more than $90 million extra this year. He said Cairns’ radiation oncology service had opened recently and the State Government was planning to build a new health facility at Edmonton and expand birthing services. "These are all new services being delivered to Cairns under the Bligh Government’s commitment to deliver more services closer to home," Mr Wilson said.
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