Cairns will become home to a University Hospital, including a brand-new Health and Innovation Precinct in the CBD, thanks to a historic agreement reached between the Palaszczuk Government and James Cook University (JCU).
The agreement comes a fortnight after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk demanded an end to delays.
The Premier said an agreement was reached yesterday to secure the land that would deliver a University Hospital in Cairns.
“The community wanted action,” the Premier said.
“We need this new health precinct more than ever.
“I’m so pleased we have a site locked in, land ready and everyone is now working on delivering this major asset for the region sooner rather than later.”
An in principal agreement has been reached between the Queensland Government, JCU and the CHHHS to finalise the land transaction.
This land will be for the construction of a purpose-built research, education and innovation precinct, which is a crucial step required to create a University Hospital.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles, who the Premier tasked with urgently ensuring an agreement was reached, said at a meeting on Wednesday 2 June 2021 all key parties agreed on the site.
“The site is the block bordered by Digger, Charles, Sheridan and Grove Streets. Right in the heart of the CBD and conveniently located near the hospital,” Mr Miles said.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said it was a win for the community.
“When the Premier was in Cairns recently she made it clear that the situation with the land needed to be sorted out and sorted out quickly.
“I’m pleased this has been done so the development of the Cairns University Hospital can proceed full steam”.
The Deputy Premier said his department will now co-ordinate a joint master plan for the site in collaboration with JCU and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS).
“We all want what is best for the people of Cairns and the Far North,” Mr Miles said.
“Securing this land is what’s needed to establish a Cairns University Hospital.
“This is a great outcome for everyone involved. Importantly it will improve healthcare in Far North Queensland, while also creating jobs and diversifying our economy.”
A brand-new Health and Innovation Precinct will be built on the land. It will include a new public health building known as the Cairns Health Innovation Centre.
CHHHS will relocate some of its research, education and training services to the new Cairns Health Innovation Centre, which would allow an expansion of the current hospital, including adding more beds to relieve pressure. It is the first step toward Cairns Hospital becoming a University level hospital.
Minister for Health Yvette D’Ath said the Cairns Health Innovation Centre will be located around the Digger and Charles Street end of the Precinct.
“We have a precinct site, we have a location for the Health building and we have a commitment to a collaborative master planning process,” Ms D’Ath said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the best healthcare vision for this Precinct delivered for the Far North.”
CHHHS Chair Clive Skarott said the Cairns Health Innovation Centre will become the flagship building of the Cairns University Hospital.
“Becoming a university hospital is part of the long-term strategic plan for Cairns Hospital,” Mr Skarott said.
“The Cairns Health Innovation Centre is the first stage of our Cairns University Hospital Redevelopment Project and would allow us to collaborate on clinical research, trials, education, training, innovation, Indigenous health and community engagement.
“We’re looking forward to working with JCU and the Queensland Government to deliver a great precinct.”
JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said that the precinct would showcase the region’s expertise as well as helping to attract and retain specialists from around the world.
“The development of the precinct, incorporating the Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre and the Cairns Health Innovation Centre allows for the co-location of students, teachers, clinicians and researchers, making this a creative and exciting place in which to study and work,” Professor Harding said.
“Our aim is for many of our future medical specialists and health innovators to be home-grown. One of our goals, dependent on Federal Government approval of extra places, is to further extend our Clinical School, to enable students to complete the entire medical degree here in the Far North.”
The Far North Queensland Health and Innovation Precinct will be a research, education and innovation precinct located close to the existing Cairns Hospital site.
The Precinct will allow JCU to further develop its teaching and research capability in Cairns. It will also help attract and retain world class researchers to the Far North with a focus on education, training and health technology innovation.