Australia’s Queensland Government has begun the A$530m ($346m) expansion of Townsville University Hospital (TUH).

Aimed to address the health requirements of North Queensland’s growing population, the expansion will add 143 beds to TUH.

The initial phase of the expansion includes the construction of a temporary helipad, which will allow a new clinical building to be built on the current helipad’s site.

In addition, 330 staff car parking spaces will be added to the facility.

Australian construction company and managing contractor BESIX Watpac has been selected to oversee the project, which is due to be completed in late 2026.

The start of work was marked by a sod-turning event on 27 March.

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Upon completion, the new multi-storey clinical building is expected to enhance acute care, rehabilitation and outpatient services, including improved telehealth capabilities.

The construction work is projected to create nearly 1,454 full-time jobs in the region.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service CEO Kieran Keyes said: “The construction of the temporary helipad is the first stage in expanding the health services we offer for our growing region.

“The new clinical building will be constructed on top of the current helipad location and this temporary helipad means those patients who come in via helicopter retrieval or transfer will still land on the hospital campus.”

TUH’s expansion work is part of the Queensland government’s A$14bn Health Big Build plan, which includes expansions to 11 existing hospitals and the construction of three new hospitals, seven satellite hospitals and a dedicated cancer centre.

The expansion effort complements other investments in the region, such as the A$40m expansion of Kirwan Community Health Campus and an A$10.6m clinical services upgrade at the North Queensland Persistent Pain Management Service and its outpatient department.

Under the Big Build initiative, the Queensland government recently completed the A$16.5m project to expand Robina Hospital.