Health Minister Paul Lucas at Maryborough Hospital with clinical nurse Margaret Nipperess-Smith.
Health Minister Paul Lucas at Maryborough Hospital with clinical nurse Margaret Nipperess-Smith. Alistair Brightman

Lucas pledges to keep hospital

FEARS that the government was moving to shut down Maryborough Hospital have been put to rest by State Minister for Health Paul Lucas.

Speaking at the Maryborough Hospital yesterday, Mr Lucas, said his government had no intention of closing the facility and in a sign of faith announced a new $250,000 emergency department upgrade project.

"This hospital plays an important role in the local community and will continue to play that role for years to come," he said.

During his quick-fire visit to the Heritage City, Paul Lucas – also Qld’s deputy premier – revealed that $250,000 would be poured into an upgrade of Maryborough’s overrun accident and emergency department.

He also said there were no plans to close the iconic hospital down. "As of next week we’ll start work on a quarter of a million dollar expansion of the emergency department," he said.

"Through this work we will see the creation of a new short stay area, three short stay beds, an expanded consultation area and will double the capacity of the waiting area.

"We have some excess space near the emergency department that we can use better and this will achieve real benefits at a modest cost."

In response to concerns about the lack of dialysis treatment in the region, Mr Lucas said South Australian dialysis expert Professor Kym Bannister had been commissioned to do an overall review of the Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg hospitals to find "how we will best respond to dialysis issues in the future".

"With an ageing population we must make sure we can make those provisions in the best possible way."

Member for Maryborough Chris Foley yesterday touted Mr Lucas’ visit as a sign that there was still hope for Maryborough Hospital.

Speaking later at Hervey Bay Hospital Mr Lucas welcomed the Prime Minister’s health reform plan, unveiled yesterday, which could cut health revenue from the states for direct investment nationally.

"Finally a federal government has said they will be responsible for growth in demand."

Mr Lucas said hospitals did need to operate in networks, particularly in a decentralised state where patients were transferred from hospital to hospital, and he looked forward to seeing the detail of the proposed hospital networks.



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