Queensland Health will pour $5 million into Cairns and Hinterland HHS to deal with the shortfall.
Ramsay Health Care will close its maternity unit at Cairns Private Hospital from 1 November, citing an inability to recruit specialist obstetricians and paediatricians required to operate safely.
Ben Tooth, Cairns Private Hospital’s CEO, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision but “safety is our first priority”.
“We understand this news will be disappointing and even distressing to some patients,” Mr Tooth said.
“We will be working closely with our obstetricians and expecting parents to ensure everyone is aware of where they should go and who will be caring for them when they go into labour.
“We have held discussions with Cairns Public Hospital who assure us they have capacity to support the additional births.
“While we are disappointed to be ending this service, we want to assure locals we are committed to continuing to provide high-quality private health care in Cairns.
“We have a $20 million development underway to create two additional operating theatres and a state-of-the-art sterilising department. We have also recently purchased land for future expansion of our hospital, installed solar panels to reduce our local carbon footprint and expanded to offer community psychology and allied health services via Ramsay Psychology and Ramsay Health Plus clinics.
“Recently we have also invested $500,000 in equipment to support our expanding ENT service which includes two new ENT surgeons.”
None of that will impress expectant parents who will now have to use the public system.
Today Queensland Health announced it would make an “initial investment” of $5 million to guarantee that birthing services in Far North Queensland would not be disrupted by the closure.
“An agreement has been reached to allow Cairns Public Hospital to utilise available beds at Ramsay Health’s private hospital. This will allow Cairns Hospital greater capacity to free up services and improve patient flow,” said the Queensland Health announcement.
“The additional births will represent only a minor increase in demand, with an average of 187 babies born each month at the public hospital compared to just 18 at [Cairns Private].”
Leena Singh, CEO of Cairns and Hinterland HHS, said expectant parents “should feel confident that they will always be in good hands at our facilities”.
“We have a high level of expertise in birthing as well as before and after birth care and support. Additionally, Cairns Hospital has a Special Care Nursery for sick and premature babies,” she said.
“Our dedicated clinicians and midwives will be working to seamlessly transition the care for each expectant mother to help ensure they have a positive and safe birthing experience.”
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