Cairns locals will gain control of health services in their region under major reforms announced by the Bligh Government this week.

Health Minister Geoff Wilson said new laws to establish 17 Local Health and Hospital Networks (LHHNs) would deliver more services sooner, closer to home for Queenslanders.

“The Bligh Government is changing the face of public health in Queensland – these new Networks amount to a massive shake up,” Mr Wilson said.

“What this means is that health services will be delivered by the community, for the community in the community.

“It’s another example of this Government doing things differently to meet Queenslander’s changing needs.

The Health and Hospitals Network Bill 2011, introduced into State parliament last week, will establish 17 Local Health and Hospital Networks (LHHNs) as part of the National Reform Agenda.

“This reform will deliver more beds, more surgery and faster emergency care to Queenslanders.

“This is an opportunity to build a health system better able to meet the challenges of the future – one which puts the needs of patients first and which values the local knowledge of skilled and hardworking frontline staff.

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt called on Cairns locals to get involved in this vital reform of health care.

“I would encourage any Queenslander who wants to play a key role in helping deliver quality health services for their local community to apply,” he said.

“Networks will need people with financial, legal and human resource expertise as well as those experienced in the delivery of clinical services.

Mr Pitt said there had been extensive consultation on the reforms in the past 12 months.

“More than 60 consultations have been held across the state, with almost 3,000 people having their say,” he said.

“Among them were community representatives, consumer groups, clinical opinion leaders, unions, other health service providers and staff working in our health system.

“We are committed to getting this right and that’s why we will continue talking to these groups as we move through the process.”

Member for Cairns Desley Boyle said the new system meant locals would have an even greater say in how their region’s health services were delivered.

“These reforms are designed to give every local community a say in their local health service so the Network can provide new and innovative services that meet each area’s individual needs,” she said.

“It will also help create a more transparent and accountable health system that ensures every tax payer dollar spent is spent wisely and well.”

Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall said the new system would allow the public to see how taxpayer dollars are spent on delivering more health services sooner in their local communities.

“People in Cairns will be able to see how much is being spent, what is being delivered and how well when compared to similar networks across Queensland and Australia,” he said.

“There will be local decision-making and local accountability with each autonomous network run by an expert governing council.

“Members of the Governing Council will be appointed following a transparent and public recruitment process and we will soon be calling for expressions of interests in these positions.”

Mr Wilson said the Government was working with Health Consumers Queensland to build the best possible model for local communities to have their say in how their local health services are run.

“We’re committed to national Health Reform, and we’re committed to ensuring it helps us deliver the health care Queenslanders need in their local communities.”

Health Consumers Queensland Chairman Mark Tucker-Evans welcomed the progression of the legislation to create LHHNs.

“The reforms will ensure stronger consumer and community engagement in health planning,” he said.