The Queensland Government in Australia has announced plans to allocate A$1.44bn ($956m) under the upcoming State Budget for the Cairns and Hinterland Health and Hospital Service.

This funding will support a range of healthcare initiatives, including the establishment of the Cairns Health and Innovation Centre with an initial A$60m investment.

The investment will also help carry out the master planning, develop the design, and acquire land for the centre near the Cairns Hospital.

The innovation centre aims to foster integration between healthcare, education, research, and industry.

This centre will feature facilities such as flexible workspaces, education areas, clinical trial spaces, and specialised simulation labs.

These facilities will be supported by university partners offering expertise in data sciences and robotics.

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The investment also includes funding worth A$250m for executing expansion works at Cairns Hospital, to provide additional 96 new beds.

Further developments include the construction of a new mental health unit, redevelopment of the emergency department, the new Cow Bay Primary Health Centre and the Cairns Youth Alcohol and Other Drugs Residential Treatment Centre.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said: “My government’s upcoming budget will deliver the biggest investment to Queensland Health services, infrastructure and personnel in the state’s history.

“Here in Cairns, that budget will secure over A$1.43bn towards better services and a bigger hospital and health precinct. A key part of that will be a new Health and Innovation Centre – backed by an initial A$60m funding from my government.

“The centre will leverage our Asia-Pacific connections, lead better outcomes for locals, and deliver cutting-edge research on the health challenges unique to the tropics.”

Additionally, the government allocated A$24m for an adolescent mental health unit at Cairns Hospital.

This unit will be created by refurbishing the existing adult inpatient ward and will provide specialised care for young people with mental health issues.

The project will employ an additional 24 staff members, including medical and support professionals.

Construction of the new 53-bed adult mental health unit is underway, with completion expected later this year and operations starting in early 2025.