GREAT NEWS: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd and Minister   Bridget McKenzie announced a $10 million upgrade for Emerald Hospital.
GREAT NEWS: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd and Minister Bridget McKenzie announced a $10 million upgrade for Emerald Hospital. Taylor Battersby

Hospital's major facelift

A MAJOR health hub will soon undergo extensive upgrades, thanks to a multi-million dollar funding announcement from the Federal Government.

Yesterday, Federal Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation Bridget McKenzie, alongside Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, committed $10 million to Emerald Hospital for the upgrade of its theatre services and emergency department.

Minister McKenzie said it gave her "great pleasure” to make the announcement.

"As a government, the Liberal National Federal Government has shown our commitment to delivering better health outcomes for rural and regional Australians at each and every step of the way,” she said.

"As I understand it, this money will be used to build an entirely new area for the ED (emergency department) to ensure patients have privacy.

"That those who are affected by alcohol and drugs, that may be affected by mental health issues, can be dealt with effectively to ensure not only the safety of themselves but also the safety of the staff and other patients within the ED.”

Minister McKenzie said during her visit to the hospital, she saw "just how important” these facilities were to the Central Highlands.

"Yesterday, they (the hospital) had over 50 people through the ED, putting a lot of strain on services, a lot of crowding, issues around privacy,” she said.

"We need to make sure this hospital can have a 21st century ED that can deal with that sort of influx, when and where they need it.

"We're very proud to partner with the hospital and partner with the health professionals here to make sure they have a workforce (and) a work area that means they can deliver the very best healthcare to the local community that they can.”

Dr Ewen McPhee, who has practised in Emerald for 30 years, welcomed the Minister's announcement.

"What this is going to mean is that we can continue to do the great work that we've been building on for many years,” he said.

"I'm a 30 year veteran of this town and I want to say that investing in our local hospital (and) investing in our operating theatre means we can deliver more care closer to home.

"Our operating theatres are critical - people shouldn't have to travel thousands of kilometres for an operation and we know that our young rural generals in this hospital can deliver safe anaesthesia and safe surgery in this town.

"I think this investment is of critical importance to ensure the future of rural health in this country.”

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said it was great that Minister McKenzie was able to be in Emerald to make the announcement.

"As far as our health budget is concerned, we have doubled our health costings and providing money through the State Government to the Central Queensland region,” Mr O'Dowd said.

"I'm very proud of the fact that we're doing that.”

Beers responds to funding announcement

Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers has responded to the Federal Government's funding announcement for Emerald Hospital, saying it "stopped short” of Labor's plan for better health service in the Central Highlands.

"Unlike the LNP, who have had six years in Government to take action on this, we don't have to wait until two weeks before an election to take local health services seriously,” he said.

"Unfortunately, Ken O'Dowd and the LNP have stopped short of matching our full plan for better health services in the Central Highlands, including $3.5 million for a fully funded, dedicated Emerald Headspace, and $17.9 million for a new Blackwater Hospital, leaving young people and Blackwater locals out in the cold.”

Mr Beer said the community had been "crying out” for these services for years, but the LNP had been unable to match Labor's commitment to deliver these services.

"These issues should be above politics, yet Ken O'Dowd has refused to listen to his community on this,” he said.

"If he's serious about health services in the Central Highlands, Ken O'Dowd must back our commitment for a dedicated Headspace facility and a new Blackwater Hospital.

"Unfortunately, Ken O'Dowd has proven time and time again that he's just not up for the job of delivering the services the Central Highlands needs.”

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