An e-petition calling on the state government to build a new state-of-the-art hospital in Charters Towers to replace the 140-year-old facility has already attracted hundreds of signatures since its launch earlier this month.
The petition, sponsored by Member for Traeger Robbie Katter, was launched by Charters Towers Regional Council after a community forum in early July.
So far, the petition, posted to the Queensland Parliament website, has been signed by 648 people who support the construction of a new hospital "to boost the provision of the medical care in the community and reduce travel costs, reintroduce birthing services, support Indigenous patients to remain on-country, boost employment and construction, and encourage new residents".
Mr Katter said while the community had gratefully secured dialysis services and assurances of a CT scanner, the end goal must be a new facility that retained current bed numbers and potentially reinstated birthing services along with general better access to modern medical care.
"The current state government continually cites money as a barrier to the project but when they're spending $2.7 billion on adding a few more seats to the Gabba Stadium in Brisbane, money is clearly not the problem - rather, priorities are," Mr Katter said.
"Townsville University Hospital is earmarked for expansion but right now it's struggling - declaring numerous code yellows in recent times - and sending patients from Charters Towers and surrounding communities to Townsville for everything that can't be solved here at our local hospital is occupying already-strained beds, staff and resources."
Charters Towers Regional Council Mayor Frank Beveridge said the town's current healthcare infrastructure was struggling to keep up and it was time for action.
"I implore those making the decisions to allocate the necessary resources and funding to make this vital project a reality," he said.
"Our community's health and well-being should be our utmost priority and a new hospital in Charters Towers is a crucial step towards ensuring a brighter and healthier future for our region."
Cattleman's Steakhouse Restaurant owner/manager Tony Mulligan, who has lived in Charters Towers since 2012, said it would be great if a new hospital stopped the transfer of most patients to Townsville General Hospital and was long overdue.
Mr Mulligan said the population of Charters Towers deserved a new hospital and was "pretty optimistic" the state government would hopefully do something about a new hospital considering how it had a big surplus from mining royalties.
"Hopefully, they will spend some of that money for infrastructure here," he said.
Mr Mulligan said it would be great if the new hospital included a maternity ward so women could have their babies in Charters Towers.
Cr Beveridge said he encouraged the community to sign the petition and share the information to assist council with its advocacy for the project.
The petition can be accessed via https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Work-of-the-Assembly/Petitions/Petition-Details?id=3908 until August 20.
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