Cairns could soon have a private emergency department, with Ramsay Health Care chief executive Chris Rex confirming it is “definitely on the radar”.
Mr Rex was in Cairns yesterday to officially open the first stage of a $22 million redevelopment at Cairns Private Hospital.
Speaking to The Cairns Post, the global health director revealed that a business case had been prepared and a plan had been floated to move hospital executives offsite to make room for an emergency department.
“I’m a great supporter of private hospitals increasing its role in a range of emergency- based services,” Mr Rex said.
“In principle, it’s something I feel strongly about that we should do more of so we can provide a greater range of choice for people with private health insurance.”
Ramsay Health Care recently opened an emergency department at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital and is preparing to open another on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
Mr Rex spoke about public and management pressure to open an emergency department to paying patients, but stopped short of promising the urgent ward would be built within the next two years.
“As for Cairns, we will certainly assess whether or not the hospital has the appropriate capability to provide a full emergency service,” he said.
“If we believe that it can, then there is every reason to suppose in the fullness of time we will develop an emergency service here. It’s definitely on the radar.
“I’d be surprised if we weren’t investing more in this hospital over the next five years – disappointed even.”
Cairns Private Hospital chief executive Shane Mitchell said an emergency department was considered in the current upgrades but was shelved due to a lack of space.
“Obviously, the population base is growing and there is an opportunity to expand services past what we have got,’’ Mr Mitchell said.
“We have already spent $20 million so we see the opportunity in Cairns.”
The first stage of the $22 million redevelopment includes a new 56-bed private accommodation wing, a new operating theatre and an eight chair day chemotherapy centre.
Over the next six months, the hospital’s maternity wing will receive a multimillion-dollar renovation to increase the bed and birth suite capacity and the rehabilitation ward will be worked on. A new dedicated cardiac ward is also planned.
“We are very positive about our ongoing investment in increased bed and theatre capacity at Cairns Private Hospital,” Mr Rex said.
“We are ensuring the necessary infrastructure is right here in Cairns to better service the growing healthcare needs of the whole region.”