10 May 2023

EXCLUSIVE: Baby bonus for Weipa Hospital

| Cape York Weekly
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EXPECTING mothers will no longer have to fly out to have their babies as the state government prepares to announce a major upgrade to the Weipa Hospital.

Sources told Cape York Weekly that a decision was expected to be announced soon following years of strategic planning.

The Weipa Integrated Health Service facility would evolve into a world-class rural hospital with the addition of a maternity ward.

It would complement the new CT scanner that is due to be up and running by February, 2021.
The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service confirmed in a roundabout way that birthing services are coming to Weipa.

TCHHS chief executive officer Beverley Hamerton mentioned it in response to questions about the relocation of private GP Dr Leo Gunaseelan from the hospital.

“The need to relocate Dr Gunaseelan’s practice has arisen from plans by our health service to develop and expand the range of services currently being delivered through the Weipa IHS,” she said.

“These include the proposed establishment of additional primary health services, as well as a new CT scanner service, renal services, additional operating theatre capacity and a new maternity service.”

Ms Hamerton said Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service had offered a site for Dr Leo at the Old Weipa Hospital facility in Rocky Point.

“Dr Gunaseelan’s practice’s licensing agreement to utilise space within the Weipa Integrated Health Service expired on June 30 this year,” she said.

“We have made contractual offers to relocate Dr Gunaseelan’s practice to the old hospital site on the corner of Central and Northern avenues.

“Dr Gunaseelan has advised he prefers to pursue other options for continuing to deliver his practice’s services.”


INTRODUCING a maternity ward at Weipa Hospital has always been a talking point in the community.

Most mums are in favour of it, although some have said they would still prefer to fly to Cairns or elsewhere to give birth.

It’s likely that when the service is announced that any mothers deemed “high risk” would still have to fly to Cairns in advance of their due date.

Weipa was promised birthing services by the LNP government under Campbell Newman but Labor had been reluctant to spend the estimated $5 million per year to introduce them here.

Instead, the state government invested in maternity services at Cooktown, which also services Hope Vale and other surrounding communities.

Obstetrician Dr Carmon Guy said the cost was worth it when compared to the alternative costs to government to pay for women to go away for childbirth.

“Consider all of the other costs to send women down, throughout the ante-natal period, also the delivery, the cost to the family, from a mental health point as well,” she said in a 2017 interview.

“I think we are providing better outcomes, and happier, healthier babies and mums.”

Dr Guy said other women deserved the same service at their local hospitals.

“Especially somewhere like Weipa – they’re even more remote and they have many young families up there. I think they’d benefit greatly,” she said.

Weipa residents will now wait for the announcement, likely to be made by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in coming months.

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