Media Release: Atherton Hospital extra staffing

Jun 21, 2023

Member for Hill Shane Knuth said after many years of lobbying, the $86.4 million upgrade to the Atherton Hospital is almost complete with the opening, just around the corner.

Mr Knuth said the upgrade had been a community driven project, with many letters, a 6,000 strong petition and ministerial visits.

“I am looking forward to seeing the official opening take place,” Mr Knuth said.

“The project has had a few hiccups along the way with concerns regarding the lack of staffing and lead in the water of the new building.”

Mr Knuth put a Question on Notice (QoN) to the Health Minister on May 11, 2023 after the concern of lack of staff at the hospital was raised to his office if the Minister could confirm that extra staffing had been recruited to fully staff all services at the current and new sections of the Atherton Hospital.

“I raised these communities concerns with the Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health Service CO and Board recently and was reassured that new positions at Atherton Hospital were currently being filled,” Mr Knuth said.

In the Ministers response to Mr Knuth, the Minister confirmed that an additional 17.66 full time positions across administration, operations, nursing and pharmacy staff had been approved and would be staffed to help meet demand and community expectations when providing safe treatment and care.

Mr Knuth said he had been made aware of lead in the water in the new section of the hospital.

He said he was advised by the Ministers office that testing is continuing to ensure water within the facility meets the required standards.

In a statement on the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service website, CHHHS Chief Executive Leena Singh said staff and patients at the Atherton facility were being given bottled water, and current and former staff would be offered free and voluntary blood testing.

Ms Singh said elevated lead levels at Atherton Hospital were initially detected in the new Clinical Services Building, which meant the opening date would be rescheduled.

“Patients and staff will only move into the new Clinical Services Building after rectification works and testing confirm that the water meets Australian drinking water guidelines,” she said.

“Importantly, there will be no impact on the delivery of clinical services from rescheduling the opening of the building.

“The health advice is that there is no risk to patients or visitors at our facilities, and we encourage people to still come to our hospital if they need medical assistance.”