The Queensland government will commit to almost $53 million to expand Cairns Hospital and convert the facility into a university hospital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says much of the funding will be used to upgrade the emergency department and install a new endoscopy suite and operating theatre.

She says $1.5 million will be put towards a business case for the facility to be turned into a university hospital, where medicine students can train, in partnership with James Cook University (JCU).

“What this fundamentally means is that I want to see local people from the far north, I want to see them raise their children here and give their children the opportunities to be trained here, to live here, to raise their families here and to work here,” she said.

“And we can do that if we have a very strong partnership with James Cook University.”

Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding says JCU will contribute $60 million towards the plan, which will not only serve students and the local community but also put Cairns on the map as hub of medical research.

She said students who trained in the region were also more likely to stay to work in the region.

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“Not only will be delivering on that vision of having people trained here and staying here, we will be in a position to attract world-class clinical talent to Cairns and they’ll do that because what we have is university hospital genuinely engaged in teaching, in clinical research, and in broader research of benefit to the Cairns community,” Prof Harding said.

Ms Palaszczuk said she had been lobbied to commit funding for the hospital by local Labor MPs, three of whom hold their seats by the slimmest margins in the state.

Labor’s Craig Crawford holds Barron River by just 1.9 per cent, Michael Healy has a 3.4 per cent margin in Cairns and Cynthia Lui has a 5.8 lead in Cook.

Queensland’s state election will take place on October 31.

AAP

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