End of an era as hospital network chair retires

2 minute read

Mike Horan has presided over one of regional Australia’s busiest health services and its $1.3b budget for 12 years.

One of Queensland’s longest-serving health and hospital service chairs has called time on his 12-year tenure. 

Mike Horan, former state health minister and father of former Wallabies’ skipper Tim Horan, has announced his imminent retirement from the board of Darling Downs Health. 

Mr Horan, 79, became chair in 2012 and has presided over what he called a “huge 12 years of change”. 

“It’s been a great privilege and honour for me to have this position for 12 years and to serve the towns and communities of our region,” he told the Toowoomba Chronicle

“With regards to infrastructure, I’m quite proud of what we’ve been able to achieve over the 12 years with major projects like the magnificent new Kingaroy Hospital and the new Toowoomba Hospital which is commencing at the moment.” 

First announced in June 2022, major construction on the $1.3 billion hospital on the 75-hectare campus – currently occupied by the Baillie Henderson mental health facility – is scheduled to begin this year after early enabling works, including the installation of power and water, were completed in December 2023.   

The hospital is set to provide an additional 118 beds across medical, surgical, maternity, coronary and intensive care units alongside emergency department treatment spaces, outpatient consultation rooms and diagnostic rooms. 

It will also include medical imaging, pharmacy, and pathology services as well as administration, education and training facilities for hospital staff.  

Mr Horan also mentioned smaller services that had come online during his time as chair, including staff accommodation at Miles, new maternity suites at Stanthorpe Hospital and the teleoncology service now available at Warwick, Dalby and Kingaroy. 

Mr Horan was a dairy farmer in Gympie and professional rugby union and league player before entering state politics for the Queensland National Party in 1991 as the member for Toowoomba South.  

He served as health minister during the government of Rob Borbidge from 1996 to 1998 and was opposition leader and leader of the Nationals from 2001 to 2003. He became a member of the Liberal National Party in 2008 and served as shadow attorney-general, shadow minister for justice and racing, shadow minister for open government and opposition whip until he retired from state politics at the 2012 election. 

In his time as chair of the DDH board the service’s budget went from $560 million in 2012 to $1.3 billion this year.  

Queensland Health will name his replacement later this month. 

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