Cairns University Hospital Redevelopment Project

BRIEFING NOTE SUMMARY
  • Cairns Hospital will be at capacity across all bed types by 2022.
  • CHHHS is seeking to progress Phase 1 of its Cairns University Hospital Redevelopment Project – comprising an additional 80 beds and establishing the Cairns Health and Innovation Centre (CHIC).
  • The new CHIC is proposed to be built in partnership with JCU’s Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre (CTEC), on land adjacent to the Cairns Hospital.
  • JCU has received a Federal Government commitment of $60m towards CTEC (including land acquisition contribution).
  • Phase 1 is now progressing, with State Government committing $1.5m for the preliminary business case and $15m for land acquisition. Further funding will be sought following the business case process.
THE ISSUE

Clinical research, education and expanded health services are critical to meeting the health needs of Tropical North Queensland’s growing population. Establishing a Cairns Health and Innovation Centre (CHIC) 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, highquality care to address the critical health challenges facing TNQ. It will also enable the hospital to address its current challenges related to hospital capacity, site resilience, workforce attraction and retention, and bringing care closer to home for our community.

The proposed CHIC is intended to be adjacent to and support the Cairns Hospital in the areas of research, 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 fi rms.

The CHIC will enable some services to be relocated from the main hospital, freeing up critical assets for clinical services. Some of the hospital’s critical services on the ground floor may also be shifted to other parts of the Cairns Hospital to address short-term service continuity risks.

The proposed CHIC 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 CHIC 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. It will also enable and rapidly expand virtual health care models.

The CHIC 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 JCU’s CTEC, a research-driven medical facility that has received a $60m Federal Government commitment including a contribution towards acquiring land for the joint facility.

The State Government has committed funding for Phase 1 of the project, including $1.5million for a preliminary business case and $15million for land acquisition. Further capital is now sought for CHHHS to progress Phase 1 of the Cairns University Hospital Redevelopment Project, comprising:

  • Optimising the fit-out of Cairns Hospital to facilitate an extra 80 beds
  • Designing and constructing the CHIC in partnership with JCU
  • $3.5m to progress a detailed business case for Phase 1 of the project.

 

BACKGROUND

The Cairns Hospital supports an estimated resident population of 259,230 and regularly provides acute medical services for residents of the Cape and Torres region (population of 27,643). Combined with estimated population growth of 1.1% per annum, and an ageing population, it is estimated that by 2026 an additional 32,000 people will reside in the catchment area with close to one in five residents over 65.

In 2019-2020 there were 71 690 presentations to the Cairns Hospital emergency department. Throughout 2020, the hospital managed the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic as well as normal health service delivery. From August 2020, there was a return of increased pressure on the emergency department with an average of 218-224 patients a day, despite tourist numbers being dramatically reduced due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Strategic Infrastructure Master Plan outlines the critical need for investment in health facilities in Cairns to address current and predicted health needs. There are significant short-term capacity constraints and resilience risks at Cairns Hospital. The plan outlines a number of strategic options to address these issues – including optimising existing assets. Cairns Hospital will be at capacity across all bed types by 2022 (c. 70 beds short) – even accounting for improvements to care models. By 2036/37, this gap will have widened to 200+ beds.

This is constraining the hospital’s ability to deliver new and improved services and innovate to meet community needs. The proposal for a CHIC 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, JCU, CQUniversity, TAFE and and Advance Cairns, is 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 CHIC, CHHHS is required to construct a dedicated new facility adjacent to Cairns Hospital. With JCU having secured $60 million in Federal funding as a contribution to the construction of the new facility, a further $115+million is now sought from the State Government to progress the CHIC to design and construction phase as well as fi t out an additional 80 beds in Cairns Hospital.

Through expanding the Cairns Hospital precinct to accommodate medical research and specialised workforce training, the CHIC will support the transition of Cairns Hospital to University status. A core element of the precinct will be James Cook University’s CTEC, a research-driven medical facility. CTEC will also support the delivery of JCU’s proposed Tropical Global Health Centre, which will allow expansion of the JCU Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program to offer Years 1-6 in Cairns (and Mackay).

 

OUR RECOMMENDATION
  • That in 2021, the State Government fast tracks the purchase of the land for the CHIC, as well as the preliminary business case for Phase 1 of the Cairns University Hospital Redevelopment Project.
  • That the State Government commits the full funding required to Queensland Health to implement Phase 1 (based on the business case), comprising an additional 80 beds at Cairns Hospital and the construction of the CHIC.
  • That the State Government provides $3.5 million for the completion of the Phase 1 detailed business case.

 

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