New and improved hospital now a reality with… Injection of $1.2 billion

Wide Bay Hospital & Health Service board chair Peta Jamieson and chief executive Debbie Carroll, with Bundaberg MP Tom Smith, looking at concept designs of the new hospital. Picture: FILE

By Aaron Goodwin

A commitment to a new $1.2 billion Bundaberg Hospital on Kay McDuff Drive has the local health service, doctors and nurses excited for a new era of greater healthcare capability across the region

The Palaszczuk Government’s $1.2 billion state budget commitment for a new Bundaberg Hospital, with 121 more beds than the current Bundaberg Base Hospital is poised to decrease wait times and improve patient experiences.

It is the largest health infrastructure build outside of South-East Queensland.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service (WBBHS) chief executive officer Debbie Carroll said the record health infrastructure investment in the Wide Bay provided an opportunity for significant expansion to the WBHHS’ healthcare service’s capacity and capability.

’’We are thrilled with the announcement of a $1.2 billion injection to Wide Bay to deliver a new Bundaberg Hospital as part of the Queensland Health Capacity Expansion Program,’’ Ms Carroll said.

’’Importantly, building a bigger and better hospital with an additional 121 beds will reduce wait times, enable more care to be provided closer to home and improve the overall patient experience.

’’The site has ample space for future expansion of health services and will future proof our public healthcare system to better meet the changing and growing needs of Wide Bay residents.

’’We thank everyone who has taken time to learn more about this game changing project and shared valuable feedback along the way, which has helped us to reach this extraordinary milestone.’’

There are 249 beds at the Bundaberg Base Hospital and the new hospital will have 370 beds.

The Together Union represents doctors, allied health, administration, professional and managerial staff in the WBHHS.

Wide Bay organiser Allison Finley-Bissett said members had been working in an ageing facility.

’’We look forward to seeing a new facility being built,’’ Ms Finley-Bissett said.

’’I do wonder about the consultation that needs to happen around the building of a new facility and hopefully WBHHS will consult with the union about the future hospital.

’’Hopefully we see it soon, given we currently need more beds and more staff throughout WBHHS.

’’It will improve the situation for patients and staff.

’’Having a Level 5 hospital will mean the WBHHS can attract a better range of staff, capacity to do a bigger range of things and less people have to be transferred to Brisbane.’’

Bundaberg MP Tom Smith said the new hospital would be a game-changer for the entire Wide Bay region.

’’It’s important the announcement has made in this budget because people know that it is real,’’ Mr Smith said.

’’To know the new Bundaberg Hospital is not just a dream or a vision into the future, it’s actually going to be happening and it’s going to be happening this calendar year as well.

“In 2020, I stood shoulder to shoulder with the Premier and we said a Palaszczuk Government would deliver a new hospital for Bundaberg.

“That’s exactly what this $1.2 billion enables us to deliver.”

However, Burnett MP Stephen Bennett said the announcement of $1.2 billion for the new hospital was extremely deceitful, with only $20 million for early works in the budget.

’’The lack of investment in a hospital we were promised during an election two years ago clearly indicates we’re on go-slow construction plan. The evidence is in the money,’’ Mr Bennett said.

’’Our chance of getting a new hospital any time soon has been dashed, let alone the Level 5 hospital we were promised.

’’As feared, the new hospital is still at least six years away.’’

The focus of the community and state Opposition will be on whether the new hospital will include level 5 services as promised in the 2020 State Election campaign.

The community can submit feedback about the proposed hospital by emailing the project team at wbhhs-newhospital@health.qld.gov.au.