Work starts on Cairns Emergency Department upgrade

Wednesday, 20 July, 2022

Work starts on Cairns Emergency Department upgrade

BESIX Watpac has started work on the $26.4m Cairns Hospital Emergency Department redevelopment this month, mobilising their site team and establishing the first of 12 work zones.

Cairns Hospital is the largest major referral hospital in Far North Queensland caring for patients from the Torres Strait to Tully.

From October to December 2021, 21,489* people visited the department in Cairns, which is on average 233 people a day or one patient every six minutes.

The redevelopment will add six new beds, create 164 m2 of new facility, and upgrade and reconfigure 1152 m2 of the existing emergency department. The staged works comprise 12 work zones, six stages and three separable portions.

Fast-tracked by Health Minister Yvette D’Ath** in July last year, the upgrade is part of Phase 1 of a government initiative to increase health services in the region by optimising existing infrastructure.

Northern Area Manager Wade Cummins said the BESIX Watpac team had been working on other upgrade projects around the hospital for the past 18 months and would carefully stage and plan the works to minimise any disruptions to hospital operations and the community.

“We are currently completing the High Voltage Upgrade to improve the power infrastructure for the Cairns Hospital and the Air Conditioning Chiller Upgrades, so we understand how complex and difficult it is to work in a live hospital environment.

“We will be working closely with Emergency Department and QAS to plan out the works and ensure minimal impact on operations,” Cummins said.

The Emergency Department redevelopment increases the available beds from 47 to 53, with a significant increase in enclosed treatment spaces, an extra negative pressure isolation bed and, for the first time, two negative pressure resuscitation spaces.

CEO Mark Baker said BESIX Watpac had delivered “multiple award-winning health, science and research facilities in the past decade” including: the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine Facility (AITHM), an infectious diseases research hub in North Queensland; the Roma Hospital $85 million redevelopment; the Herston Quarter Surgical, Treatment and Rehabilitation Service building, a specialist health facility delivered through a Public Private Partnership with Australian Unity in Brisbane; and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute 13-storey research facility, Queensland.

* Hospital Performance (

** Cairns Hospital Emergency Department expansion fast tracked by six months - Ministerial Media Statements; Cairns University Hospital Redevelopment - Advance Cairns

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