Cairns University Hospital Innovation Precinct

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY
  • Establishment of a Research, Education and Innovation (REI) Centre will support the transition of Cairns Hospital to Cairns University Hospital status.
  • The new five-storey REI Centre is proposed on land adjacent to Cairns Hospital. James Cook University’s Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre (CTEC) will also be developed on the proposed site.
  • The REI Centre has received$60 million in Stage 1 funding. This funding is for acquisition of land for the REI Centre and to fund the development of James Cook University’s CTEC.
  • A Stage 2 State investment of $90 million is sought to progress the REI Centre to design and construction phase and a further $60 million is required to fit out an additional 80 beds in Cairns Hospital.
  • To implement the CHHHS’ new master plan, $6 million is sought for a business case.

 

THE ISSUE

Clinical research, education and expanded health services are critical to meeting the health needs of Tropical North Queensland’s (TNQ’s) growing population. Establishment of a Research, Education and Innovation (REI) Centre and an expansion of services at Cairns Hospital will be a key element in the transition of Cairns Hospital to University status, allowing the hospital to deliver world-class, high-quality care to address the critical health challenges facing TNQ.

The proposed REI Centre will be adjacent to and support the Cairns Hospital in the areas of research and development and training, transforming the sector to a high-tech, research-driven collaborative enterprise between the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS), James Cook University (JCU), TAFE, scientists, and private medical and technology firms. The proposed REI Centre will enable CHHHS to address known research gaps, such as:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health;
  • Tropical health and medicine;
  • Healthcare data linkages and health service models of care; and
  • Equity of access to healthcare for patients with rheumatic heart disease, sexually transmitted infections, renal disease, diabetes and blood borne viruses.

In addition to clinical research, the REI will provide opportunities for innovative delivery of health workforce education programs, plus ongoing clinical advancement in nursing, medical and allied health services for its patients and its workforce.

The centre will also allow for research and education staff to be relocated from the Hospital’s A Block, enabling a relocation of administration staff from B Block to create space there for clinical use.

The REI Centre will house a clinical education facility and a virtual care facility to support the delivery of telehealth patient services. A core element of the precinct will be James Cook University’s CTEC, a research-driven medical facility that received a $60 million bi-partisan commitment from the Prime Minister and then Opposition Leader on 21 January 2019.

The $60 million bi-partisan commitment will progress the acquisition of land for the REI Centre and enable JCU to establish the CTEC facility. A further $90 million is now sought from the State Government to enable the REI Centre to progress to design and construction phase as well as $60 million to fit-out an additional 80 beds in Cairns Hospital.

The proposed REI centre will support the transition of Cairns Hospital to Cairns University Hospital. The CHHHS has recently finished a master plan which identifies about $500 million in infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. $6 million is required to complete a business case to deliver the master plan.

 

BACKGROUND

The Cairns Hospital supports an estimated resident population of 278,000 and regularly provides acute medical services for residents of the Cape and Torres region (population of 26,399). Combined with estimated population growth of 1.1% per annum, and an ageing population, it is estimated that by 2026 an additional 67,000 people will reside in the catchment area with close to one in five residents being over 65 years of age. In addition, Cairns Hospital provides medical services for the estimated five million tourists that visit the region annually.

In 2018-2019 there were 74,667 presentations to the Cairns Hospital emergency department, a 24% increase over the preceding five years, and 82,727 patients were admitted to the Hospital. Throughout 2019 the emergency department has faced unprecedented pressure, averaging 211 patients per day, an increase of 4% year on year. Also 30% of emergency patients are tourists or people who live outside Cairns, in rural and remote areas including Cape York and Torres Strait.

Demand for CHHHS services will therefore continue to rapidly increase. Expansion of the capability and status of the Cairns Hospital is required to meet the future health needs of the growing TNQ population.

The proposal for a five-storey REI Centre to service this population has broad partner support and seeks to build on successive government investments. CHHHS, supported by the Northern Queensland Primary Healthcare Network (PHN), JCU and Advance Cairns, is collectively seeking to improve the ability of Cairns to build its own medical, nursing and allied health workforce and translate research into practice to improve health outcomes in our community.

 

NEXT STEPS

To deliver on the vision for the REI Centre, CHHHS is required to construct a dedicated new facility adjacent to Cairns Hospital. Having secured $60 million in Federal funding to progress the land acquisition for the project, a further $90 million is now sought from the State Government to progress the REI Centre to design and construction phase as well as $60 million to fit out an additional 80 beds in Cairns Hospital.

Through expanding the Cairns Hospital precinct to accommodate medical research and specialised workforce training, the REI Centre will support the transition of Cairns Hospital to Level 6 University status. A core element of the precinct will be James Cook University’s CTEC, a research-driven medical facility. The combined footprint of the Cairns Hospital, REI Centre and CTEC is proposed to be known as the Cairns University Hospital Innovation Precinct.

Figure 1. Interrelationship between JCU strategic initiatives and the Cairns University Hospital initiative.

 

OUR RECOMMENDATION
  • That in 2020-2021 the Queensland Government commit $90 million in funds to Queensland Health to progress Stage 2 of the Cairns University Hospital’s Health and Knowledge Precinct, enabling the establishment of a Research, Education and Innovation Centre in Cairns.
  • That the Queensland Government over three years from 2020-2021 provide $60m to fit out an additional 80 beds in Cairns Hospital.
  • That the Queensland Government provide $6 million in 2019-2020 to fund a business case to implement the CHHHS master plan.

 

PROPONENT: Advance Cairns, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service
PRIORITY: Infrastructure
COUNCIL: All TNQ
STATE ELECTORATES: All TNQ
FEDERAL ELECTORATE: Leichhardt, Kennedy