The newly named Lady Bjelke Petersen Community Hospital.
The newly named Lady Bjelke Petersen Community Hospital. Barclay White

Private hospital decision splits South Burnett community

A DECISION made last week for the South Burnett Regional Council to take over the South Burnett Private Hospital proved divisive in the community.

Nurse Rachael Collier's career was put on hold when the hospital closed its doors last year.

She has since taken on work part-time at the Nanango Hospital but said she would take her job back in a heartbeat if she had the chance.

"Just from being there and knowing the amount of surgeries we did, I think it's much-needed in our community," Mrs Collier said.

"They definitely need the call for a new or bigger hospital because the public hospitals here are taking on a big work load for the size of their facilities.

"It's amazing how many people go through Nanango Hospital and they've only got two beds - they seem very overworked."

Councillors voted on Mayor Kratzmann's proposal to spend $150,000 on working on a business case for the private hospital.

Now the council will hire a health specialist to manage the transfer of the licence from previous operator Pulse Health.

Despite the hospital licence now being controlled by the council, the hospital is a long way off reopening.

Only two councillors, Damien Tessmann and Ros Heit, voted against the move, both citing cost as a major issue.

"It's on this basis that I've drawn a line in the sand and said it's about time we look at other options for the facility that still remain in health care," Cr Tessmann said.

In his discussions with the community, Cr Tessmann said the overwhelming feedback had been against the private hospital due to its expense.

"Given only 25% of people in this region have private health insurance, I don't know why ratepayers have to pick up the bill," he said.

As a ratepayer, Rachael Collier said she would be happy to bear the brunt of the private hospital, as it brought a much-needed service to the region.

"I'm quite happy with council taking the responsibility to assist in reopening the hospital," Mrs Collier said.

"Anything that helps build our services and infrastructure in our region isn't a bad thing.

"To allow it to stay closed would be a step backwards in developing our region."