The Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has hit out at the State Government for trying to once again stall plans to build a new Category 5 Cyclone Rated Hospital as promised after Cyclone Yasi hit in February this year.
Mr Entsch said it was ridiculous that hundreds of patients were forced to be evacuated via Hercules aircraft to Brisbane due to the current Cairns Base Hospital being unable to withstand a major storm surge or cyclone.
“Experts have always condemned the site that Cairns Base Hospital was built on as it is in a storm surge zone and was never built to Category 5 standards. After Yasi hit, the State Government were forced to acknowledge publically that we needed another site for the hospital and they committed to building one in earnest. Yet we find ourselves 5 months on and the State Government is now hoping everyone has forgotten how much of a dire situation we were all left in at Cairns Base when Cyclone Yasi hit and are refusing to fast track its construction,” said Warren Entsch MP.
Mr Entsch’s reaction has been sparked by a recent petition of 3,092 signatures from concerned residents that say enough is enough and the Edmonton site that was earmarked for the new hospital needs to commence as soon as possible.
“I agree with these residents, construction must be fast tracked. What we have is a State Government pouring close to $450 million into the redevelopment of the existing Cairns Base Hospital, yet the site is useless should we be faced with another cyclone, which we inevitably will be. The State Government is choosing to put the residents of the Far North at risk instead of acting and it is quite frankly unacceptable.”
Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt stated last week that a second hospital is unrealistic.
“His Government should have listened to the people’s concerns before committing to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on the existing site as they are doing. There is no doubt our health services need upgrading, but not on the existing site, it’s as simple as that. The Cairns Base Hospital is in a dangerous location,” Mr Entsch said.
Queensland Health purchased 23 hectares of land at Edmonton to become a second supporting hospital for the region by 2020, but Mr Entsch says the hospital construction needs to be brought forward well before then to accommodate not only the growing population on the southside, but to protect residents who are hospitalised each year during cyclone season.
“What does the State Government plan to do in the meantime, evacuate all of the patients in the hospital until they fix the mess they’ve created? What a farce, they need to admit they’ve made a mistake and fix the problem without delay. Let’s not forget that up to $5 million was committed by the Federal Government in 2008 to build a GP Super Clinic and we are yet to see this be built. This money would be better spent on the new Category 5 rated hospital as there is a much more urgent need for it,” said Mr Entsch.