Queensland Health and James Cook University have agreed to work together to plan and set up a university hospital in Cairns, Australia.

The Queensland Government has committed A$52.9m ($38.9m) to support the project’s first stage.

It is expected that the new hospital project will enhance training, education and job opportunities for the local health professionals.

Queensland Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “While we kick start the plan to transition to a new university hospital, this A$52.9m investment will also go to vital upgrades at the hospital as part of that transition.

“This will include a major expansion of the Emergency Department and a new endoscopy suite and operating theatre. Not only will this deliver world-class health facilities for the region, but this investment will support a further 159 construction jobs which is critical for our economic recovery.”

Of the total A$52.9m investment, $1.5m is allotted to help begin planning for a research and training facility, as well as additional beds for population growth in the future.

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Meanwhile, A$26.4m will be used expand the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department, A$1.5m to establish a pre-admission clinic and A$2m for addition of a new endoscopy room.

This Cairns Hospital Emergency Department expansion is set to provide more treatment and resuscitation bays, along with an additional procedure room to treat and discharge less-critical patients.

The government allotted A$800,000 to fit out a 12th operating theatre and A$20.7m for critical upgrades at Cairns Hospital in order to meet predicted future demand on utilities at the site.

In July this year, the Government of Victoria state in Australia announced efforts to expand the hospital bed capacity for Covid-19 patients.