HOSPITALS from Moranbah to Mossman will be upgraded to provide additional services ranging from maternity to renal dialysis as part of a $140m plan announced by NQ First, if North Queensland’s newest political party secures the balance of power on October 31.

In a major shot in the arm for healthcare in regional and rural communities north of the Tropic of Capricorn, NQ First Leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said today the funding would come from his team’s $1b Building the North capital works program, paid for by mining royalties.

It would be used to upgrade hospitals in North, Far North and Central Queensland at Bowen, Clermont, Charters Towers, Mareeba, Moranbah, Mossman and Proserpine.

Mr Costigan said the restoration or expansion of services would be determined after engagement with key stakeholders including the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland and the local community, especially where local issues had been clearly identified.

“For example, in my own electorate, we do not have renal dialysis at the Proserpine Hospital, forcing my constituents to travel an hour one way to the Mackay Base Hospital but under our commitment, if we win the balance of power at the State Election, that will change,” he said.

NQ First candidate for Cook, Desmond Tayley, said the $120m pledge would help communities throughout the Far North including Mareeba and Mossman and followed engagement with concerned citizens who had lamented the loss of local services.

“We used to have babies coming out of the Mossman Hospital and it needs to happen again for the sake of Mossman, Port Douglas and our surrounding communities,” he said. “We also need to expand renal dialysis services which are even more critical for our indigenous people.”

NQ First candidate for Burdekin, Carolyn Moriarty, said the return of maternity services to the Bowen Hospital was something that had been talked about for the past two decades.

“It was a sore point when I lived and worked in Bowen and it’s still a sore point for the communities of Bowen and Collinsville. I think it was the late 1990s when those services in Bowen disappeared and there hasn’t been the political get-up-and-go to rectify the situation,” she said.

“Whilst the indemnity crisis of the early 2000s cost our regional and rural communities dearly, there was a lack of political will to keep maternity services going or restore them but NQ First will fix that, so long as we secure the balance of power at the State Election on October 31,” he said.