Kidney transplant services to expand into state’s north


Queenslanders living in the state’s north will soon have access to lifesaving kidney transplant services closer to home with the expansion of the Statewide Kidney Transplant Service.

Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said COVID-19 had clearly demonstrated how protecting the health of Queenslanders was a integral part of the wellbeing of the state’s economy.

“The Palaszczuk Government has always and will continue to put the health of Queenslanders first,” the Treasurer said.

“That is what Labor Governments do. Our government continues to make record investments in health services for Queenslanders.

“Because when you protect the health of your people, then jobs and economic activity will grow.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said the Kidney Transplant Service North Queensland will be established and based in Townsville to offer the state’s second Kidney Transplant Unit.

“Queenslanders needing a kidney transplant currently travel to Brisbane, and stay in Brisbane during their pre and post-operative care”, the Minister said.

“No matter where you are in north and far north Queensland, this will deliver services closer to home.

“Establishing a new Kidney Transplant Service in northern Queensland will significantly improve equity and access for kidney transplant services for Queenslanders living in regional and remote areas of the state.

“The service will have a particular focus on caring for the most vulnerable in our community, which includes First Nations people who experience high rates of chronic kidney disease.

“It will service residents living in the Hospital and Health Service regions of Cairns and Hinterland, Townsville, Torres and Cape, North West and Mackay, delivering transplant surgery and pre and post-transplant services.

“This is great news because it will significantly reduce travel times for some of our most unwell Queenslanders.

“It means kidney transplant patients who receive their surgery at Townsville University Hospital may be able to undertake their before and after care at other hospitals, such as Cairns or Mackay.”

The surgical component of the expanded service will be based at Townsville University Hospital and will be supported by a networked service model with other regional and remote hospitals within the five regions, as well as the current Kidney Transplant Service in Brisbane.

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said the new service is another sign that the Palaszczuk Government is planning ahead to create the health services our growing region needs.

“Having a dedicated kidney transplant unit based in Townsville will make a real difference to patient care for locals and their families,” Mr Walker said.

Member for Townsville and Minister for Resources Scott Stewart said this is a great outcome for Townsville residents and other people living in areas of North Queensland.

“Once up and running, it’s going to make a huge difference for patients and families who will no longer need to travel to Brisbane to get a kidney transplant,” Mr Stewart said.

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said having a dedicated kidney transplant service based in Townsville is about delivering the clinical care patients need closer to home.

“Patients and their families will welcome this new service, which will further strengthen North Queensland’s hospital network,” Mr Harper said.

Minister D’Ath said more than 10 per cent of Queensland adults are estimated to have signs of chronic kidney disease.

“The current Kidney Transplant Unit undertakes an average of 175 transplants each year – with about 14 per cent of recipients from Hospital and Health Services from the state’s north.

“We expect these numbers to increase as our population grows, with current projections predicting the Kidney Transplant Unit will be at capacity by 2026.

“That’s why planning has started now to expand the current service.”

The site for the surgical component of the expanded service was chosen after extensive consideration by an expert independent panel.

An Expression of Interest process was initiated in August 2020 with all Hospital and Health Services across the state invited to submit a proposal outlining how they would meet specific service requirements and selection criteria to host the new service.

After considering the proposals at length, the panel put forward a report and recommendations for a decision to be made by Queensland Health.

Based on clinical and expert assessment, Townsville Hospital and Health Service was selected as offering the best opportunity to build and deliver a safe and sustainable kidney transplant service in Queensland.

Each year, Queensland Health invests $259 million to support renal services across the state.

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