All smiles: LNP leader Campbell Newman, with Mulgrave candidate Robyn Quick, at a breakfast at The Hotel Cairns. Picture: TOM LEE
Campell Newman has promised to put Cairns Base Hospital "on the path" to Tier 1 funding status, pledging $15 million to recruit extra specialists.
The hospital’s Senior Medical Staff Association has welcomed the LNP’s first step towards Tier 1 status, but Labor has criticised the announcement for falling short of campaign promises.
Mr Newman said the money would be used over four years to revitalise front line staff at Cairns Base and bring specialty services to the Far North that patients currently need to travel for. "The current lack of funding for extra specialists has put enormous strain on existing medical staff and led to long waiting times for Cairns and Far North Queensland," Mr Newman said in Cairns yesterday.
SMSA chairman Dr Peter Boyd said the funding would improve specialist offerings in Cairns, even though it falls short of the $50 million a year needed to plug all the gaps at the Cairns Base Hospital. Dr Boyd said it costs about $500,000 to employ each medical specialist when support staff and infrastructure are taken into account. "It’s a positive thing and we should give them some credit; Labor is yet to put any money on the table," Dr Boyd said. "But I would reiterate that we have an immediate $50 million deficit in our budget."
He said the services most urgently needed in Cairns included respiratory medicine, infectious diseases, medical oncology, gastro entomology and obstetrics. Labor’s Cairns candidate, Kirsten Lesina, said the Opposition was breaking election promises with the announcement. "Gavin King promised that the LNP would give the hospital Tier 1 funding but this is a completely different thing," Ms Lesina said yesterday. "If they’re this arrogant, breaking promises before they’ve been elected, what are they going to do when they are elected?"
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