No beds, no emergency – no wonder we saved $2 billion on new hospitals

The Queensland government’s proposed satellite hospitals won’t have emergency departments or overnight beds, with the Opposition labelling them little more than health clinics.

Jul 30, 2021, updated Jul 31, 2021
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pledged $265 million for the seven facilities across the southeast during last year’s state election.

Bribie Island, north and south Brisbane, Caboolture, Ipswich, Redlands and Tugun are set for the new satellite hospitals.

Metro North Hospital and Health Service chief operating officer Jacky Hanson has told a budget estimates hearing the facilities will have “urgent care centres”.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates asked her whether the hospitals will have actual emergency departments.

“No,” Professor Hanson told the hearing in Brisbane on Friday.

She said the facilities will have renal chairs and ambulatory services to relieve capacity pressures on existing hospitals.

Hanson also confirmed there would be no overnight beds at the facilities.

Bates later said the satellite hospitals were nothing more than health clinics.

“A hospital has a theatre, Emergency Department and overnight beds,” she said in a statement.

“Labor’s satellite hospitals were announced in marginal seats.

“The state government duped the people of Queensland.

“If your child has an asthma attack or your grandparent breaks a hip, a satellite hospital won’t be useful.”

Meanwhile, there’s fresh confusion about the Queensland government’s $2 billion Hospital Building Fund.

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Queensland Health Director-General John Wakefield said there had not been any allocation from the fund for his department in 2021/22.

“The $2 billion hospital building fund is not part of the Queensland Health budget,” he said.

“It is held by Treasury, as I understand.”

Bates asked Wakefield whether he had been consulted by Treasury on how the fund will be spent.

“As I said, I can only deal with money that’s allocated to Health,” he replied.

It’s understood the fund’s value is $2 billion, backed by the Queensland Titles Registry as an asset, but the actual cash balance will be just $60 million by July 2022.

The balance will eventually be topped up with a proportion of revenue from the registry totalling about $60 million annually.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the fund was never intended to be spent in the 2021/22 financial year, despite being announced in this year’s budget.

“It is a fund to be available in the future to look at particular projects that we can add above and beyond what we are already investing in Queensland Health,” she told the hearing.

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