Premier Anna Bligh has ordered a review of the Health Service Plan for the Cairns region to ensure that the experience of Cyclone Yasi is taken into account.

Premier Bligh said Queensland Health has commenced work on a Health Service Plan for the entire region – from Mossman in the North to Tully in the South and Georgetown in the West.

“This plan will not only outline what services the community needs, where and when they will need them, it will ensure that adequate consideration is given to disaster planning,” Ms Bligh said.

“And because we know Cairns also provides vital health services to patients travelling to and from the Torres Strait and Cape York regions, it will consider their needs as well.

“The massive redevelopment of the Cairns Base Hospital will meet the needs of the Cairns community until 2016 and with additional capacity made available to meet future health needs beyond this.

“When the redevelopment is completed, all medical and clinical services will be provided in buildings constructed to adequate cyclone standards which will help protect against the need for evacuations in the future.

“But we know that this fast-growing region will need more services in the future – that’s why we acquired land at Edmonton.

“This review will give certainty to the people of Cairns about what is needed on that site and when.

“This is likely to include a health precinct initially, providing important primary health care, community and out of hospital services, like physio appointments and ante-natal checks.

“And in the future, this health precinct would grow to a second supporting hospital for the region.

“I want to be clear – any service needs that are identified will be on top of the services and facilities already being delivered or planned for the Cairns Base Hospital,” she said.

“However, one of the lessons from Yasi is the need for backup medical services including operating theatres in the event of any future disaster threat to the Cairns Base Hospital.”

Minister for Health Geoff Wilson said detailed planning would be undertaken to ensure all future health needs of the Cairns community were appropriately considered.

“We want to get this right – that’s why all of these decisions will be informed by this planning work.

“The Plan will take into account population demographics and projections, the best clinical and public health advice and future advances in the way health care is provided.

“Detailed work has now started and the new Plan is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

“The Service Plan will then be the subject of community consultation.

Member for Cairns Desley Boyle also welcomed the step towards further planning.

“The fact that our plan is one of the first cabs off the rank shows how important the health services provided in Cairns are to our region,” Ms Boyle said.

“The current redevelopment was a huge win for Cairns and will see more services delivered sooner.”

Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall said the Cairns community had called for proper planning of future health services, and today’s announcement confirmed this was underway.

“Our current hospital is historic and holds a special place in the hearts of many locals, but the community is also keen to find out what’s next for health services in our region,” Mr Wettenhall said.

“That’s why there is such a strong interest in the future of the Edmonton site.

Member for Cook Jason O’Brien and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the Plan would help to ensure the health needs of the entire far North were also considered.

“So many locals from the Far North need to travel to Cairns for specialist health services, so it’s important to know that this Plan will consider their needs,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Over the next decade far north Queensland is expected to grow by 20 per cent and it will need to be matched with growth in health services,” Mr Pitt said.

“This plan will show our community that the State Government is absolutely committed to making sure this happens.”

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