New hospital on state election agenda

TWENTY years ago, in her maiden speech to Parliament, Independent MP Liz Cunningham said it was "nonsense that (in Gladstone), hospital wards are being closed, medical services downgraded and specialist services not refilled".

Yesterday, again in Parliament, Ms Cunningham was still talking about the desperate need for a new hospital for her city.

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Speaking with The Observer from Parliament, Mrs Cunningham said if the LNP proposal to lease the Port of Gladstone does go ahead, the community would need to see the benefits flow through locally.

"The next quantum step for Gladstone Hospital is a new build," she said.

"(This) request is backed up by information from every major study, perception survey, and exit surveys from employees that talk about the current infrastructure not meeting demand."

While she acknowledged progress had been made in bringing specialty services to Gladstone, she said she wasn't happy with the time it had taken.

"It's unfair to have the community manage the impact of development without corresponding infrastructure," she said.

"The expectation from the community was for a health service that reflected the risk profile in the region. The current hospital doesn't.

"It's also unfair on those who work there who have had to front a community that has been increasingly frustrated."

Labor candidate Glenn Butcher is also hinging his election campaign on a promise to improve the health service.

Mr Butcher said he believed it was "about time" Gladstone saw some money from the state's Royalties for Regions program to invest in a new hospital.

"(The hospital) hasn't had anything done to it for such a long time under either governments. This is critical," he said.

He also said he believed the "sugar hit" from the LNP proposal to lease the port wouldn't pay for an upgrade.

"It's a hub-and-spoke set up with us just a spoke off Rockhampton Hospital. We need to stop that."

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