Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the Emerald Hospital.
Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the Emerald Hospital. Kristen Booth

Shorten promises $4.8m to upgrade vital Emerald service

LEADER of the Opposition Bill Shorten promised close to $5 million for Central Highlands residents to receive quality medical service closer to home.

Mr Shorten yesterday announced a $4.8 million upgrade to the Emerald Hospital's emergency department upon election.

"Isn't it important that you've got quality health care in one's own community, rather than having to travel hours and hours? The sort of health care that people in the big cities take for granted,” Mr Shorten said.

"The Emerald Hospital does a great job, but what it needs is a government in Canberra backing up the hard work of the staff at this hospital and the legitimate expectations of the community, to receive timely and quality care for urgent conditions.”

Central Highlands Health Service general manager Eddie Gacitua said the upgraded facilities would allow patients the ease of family support throughout recovery.

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"When people don't have to travel to Brisbane or Rockhampton and have quality services locally, they are going to have faster recovery time, better support mechanisms through their family and they're going to get better faster,” he said.

The refurbishment is expected to deliver a dedicated resuscitation cubicle, improved patient and clinical work flows and the latest clinical equipment.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Steve Williamson said the upgrade would result in a better patient experience and less travel for locals.

"So better care from our doctors, that will help stabilise patients, that will help us intervene to give clinical intervention in the best possible way, it will also mean a better patient experience and it will give greater capability and greater experience for this hospital,” he said.

"We want to see 10,000 fewer journeys each year for Central Queenslanders as they get more care close to home.”

Mr Shorten said the upgrade would make sure that people living in Emerald received the same care that people expect nationwide.

Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd hit back at Mr Shorten's comments.

"Message to Bill Shorten and Labor: Stop risking the health of rural Queenslanders for their own political games,” he said.

"Queenslanders are continuing to be short-changed by Shorten in opposition as Palaszczuk puts the health of millions of Queenslanders on hold by not signing up to the National Health Agreement.

"Six State and Territory governments have all signed onto the new National Health Agreement (three Labor and three Liberal). Guess which State has not?

"Why would Queensland not want their share of an additional $7.49 billion in funding over five years?

"I'll tell you why, it's because they continue to abuse the health of Queenslanders for their own political gain and games.

"By demonising their own state-run hospitals, Bill Shorten is once again trying to trick the public's attention away from their own sorry mess.

"In 2017-18, Queensland Labor cut their health budget by $64 million at the same time the Turnbull Government is delivering an additional $1 billion in 2017-18 to Queensland Hospitals.

"The Queensland Labor Government has let down the Emerald hospital over the years and it's about time they spent some of the money provided on the upgrades and not all directed to the southeast corner. Just as we've seen with their disastrous land management laws, the Labor State Government is forgetting the bush time and time again.

"Under the proposed NHA, which Queensland is delaying to sign when six other States and Territories have seen the benefits, Queensland will receive an additional $7.5 billion over five years for public hospital services, an increase of 34.1 per cent (2020-21 to 2024-25).”