UNFAIR and unconscionable. That is how the Queensland Health Minister described the situation regional and rural communities had been left in by the rundown and dire state of their hospitals.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg released a "hidden report" on Thursday identifying the urgent repairs and maintenance required at 12 regional and rural hospitals including Sarina, Longreach, Emerald and Roma.
The report identifies hospital departments that pose a danger to workers and patients because of exposed wiring, other facilities with disability ramps at the wrong angle and inadequate asbestos management.
The report found the Sarina Hospital was, most probably, beyond repair because of its extremely poor condition.
It also found the layout of the Roma Hospital's emergency department was "dysfunctional" and the Kingaroy Hospital was incapable of meeting its service capacity.
Mr Springborg said the report, which estimated the cost of refurbishing all of the sites at $646million, sat in the Health Department for two years and was ignored by former ministers.
The Government plans to spend $51million on repairing the hospitals in the short-term, but some facilities may have to be demolished in the future.
"It will cost $51million to provide basic, bare-bones repairs and maintenance to those 12 hospitals just in order for us to keep them going until we have a better medium-long term program to be able to refurbish, or in some cases, even replace these hospitals," Mr Springborg said.
In Sarina, millions will be spent on planning for a new facility while $8million will be spent on the Emerald Hospital to fix fire, safety and asbestos issues.
A new facility also will be planned for Roma and the the Biloela Hospital will undergo planning for a new oral health, physiotherapy and community health block.
Kingaroy has been allocated $2million, which will go towards planning for a new main block.
Mr Springborg said it was not fair that patients in regional and rural areas were forced to put up with decaying hospitals.
"It's also completely unconscionable that the previous government sat on this report for two years and did not appear to have any interest or intention on releasing it," he said. "We are talking about serious structural issues in hospitals.
"The report indicates there is a danger to public safety and workers safety, where there is exposed wiring, where you have got disability ramps at the wrong angles and a whole range of other issues.
"These are very serious safety issues."
Asked whether the Labor Government should have done more to maintain hospitals, Opposition Leader Anastasia Palaszczuk said she would have to see the details of the report first.
"My understanding is the maintenance budget had been increased under the former Labor Government but now it is a matter of priority and the Government needs to get those priorities right," she said.
Cost of Refurbishment for Troubled Hospitals (capital expenditure)
- Sarina Hospital - $12.34m.
- Charters Towers Hospital - $58.4m.
- Roma Hospital - $18.2m.
- Ayr Hospital - $21.7m.
- Atherton Hospital - $105.8m.
- Biloela Hospital - $64.7m.
- Longreach Hospital - $77.6m.
- Emerald Hospital - $67m.
- Charleville Hospital - $66.9m.
- Kingaroy Hospital - $40.4m.
- Thursday Island Hospital - $80.7m.
- Mareeba Hospital - $21.5m.
Source: Queensland Health
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.