IMPRESSIVE: Construction of the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital from above.
IMPRESSIVE: Construction of the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital from above.

Sunshine Coast hospital opening could be delayed

QUESTIONS have been raised over whether the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital will be operational by the end of the year.

Current Queensland Health resident medical officer campaign documents show senior and junior house officers, interns and registrars are commonly employed on 12-month, January-January or February-February contracts.

Medical officers are usually recruited about six months before their contracts begin.

With the SCPUH expected to be opened in November this year, it remains to be seen whether there will be enough junior and senior doctors to fill the positions, given most would be already contracted.

Industry insiders said it would be uncommon for staff to be hired mid-2016 and placed on hold for a few months until a November opening, while it would be extremely expensive to employ locum physicians to fill the void until next January.

One even questioned whether the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service may consider looking to recruit young, English doctors given the current situation in England where junior doctors are preparing to strike over pay cuts.

Yet it remains unclear whether the potential problem is due to staffing or construction.

Shadow Health Minister and Caloundra MP Mark McArdle and his colleague, Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie today called on the State Government to commit to the November opening, concerned the hospital would be pushed back due to construction delays.

SCHHS chief executive Kevin Hegarty said the focus was on opening the new hospital in a way that "ensures patient safety and clinical services are of the highest standards".

He said the building of the hospital was "very advanced", but added due to the size of the hospital the last few months of its construction program will be "extremely busy".

He said independent advisors would direct when clinical services could begin.

"No decision has been made to delay the opening of the hospital," Mr Hegarty said.

The Daily put a number of questions to Mr Hegarty and Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick- who was unable to respond- about recruitment for the hospital.

Mr Hegarty confirmed the SCHHS was already recruiting additional staff, including 54 medical interns and 83 new nurses, with a major recruitment drive for a range of staff to begin in March.