Emerald Hospital.
Emerald Hospital. Contributed

Hospital to be demolished: report

THE Emerald Hospital has been recommended for demolition following a damning report published online by the State Government yesterday.

But Rural Doctors Association Queensland past president Dr Ewen McPhee said Blackwater and Springsure hospitals required more urgent repairs and infrastructure investments.

Dr McPhee's statement follows yesterday's State Government declaration that 12 regional hospitals were at the point of collapse. It pledged $52 million for urgent repairs.

The Emerald Hospital was included on the list, which Dr McPhee said was "a bit out of left field" considering the government's tightening fiscal policy.

"It is not unwelcome recognition that rural health infrastructure has taken a back seat to urban development pressures," Dr McPhee said.

"Emerald Hospital is a fairly modern structure, really, but will always need attention to maintenance moving forward.

"Springsure and Blackwater are another matter, though, with those communities needing urgent reinvestment in infrastructure.

"The general practice in Springsure is certainly about to fall down."

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said Emerald Hospital was in the same condition as facilities in Biloela, Charleville, Longreach, Mareeba and Roma.

"I am announcing today the Emerald Hospital will undergo $8 million of works which will include updating essential fire and electrical safety issues and ensuring asbestos management processes are maintained," Mr Springborg said.

The report found maintenance works on the existing hospital buildings were made difficult because the structures contained asbestos and doctors' residences on site were unsuitable for occupation.

Existing operating theatres were 30 years old, the report estimated, and the emergency department had no dedicated isolation or decontamination room.

Option three of the 46-page report recommended the demolition of the existing original hospital and the Community Health building.

"What this allows is for a model that concentrates and improves the links between the different (hospital) components," the report stated.

It would cost more than $68 million for a new hospital, according to the report's recommendations.

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