Sunshine Coast University Hospital opening delay causes concern for local businesses

Following the announcement of a five-month delay in opening the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, local business operators are expressing concerns about loss of revenue.

The Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service announced the delay on Tuesday, stating the extra time would allow the building to be properly tested before patients were admitted to the $1.8 billion Kawana facility in April 2017.

Raw Energy business development officer Phill Tucker said his franchise, located adjacent to the hospital and inside the Oceanside Kawana Pulse medical centre, was due to open in the coming fortnight.

Mr Tucker said the hospital would impact long-term business.

"The business is located in such a way that we would get the traffic flow that was going to lead from the car park into the hospital," Mr Tucker said.

"Obviously, if the hospital is not open there's not going to be any traffic flow."

Calls for explanation

State Member for Kawana Jarrod Bleijie has also expressed great concern for local business operators and the associated loss of foot traffic, and has called for a government explanation.

The opening of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital has been delayed until April 2017. Photo: The opening of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital has been delayed until April 2017. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Harriet Tatham)

"The Government says there's an independent assessment report, and they received advice; I call on them to release that advice," Mr Bleijie said.

But when repeatedly asked whether business or patient care was more important, Mr Bleijie said the Government's changed commitment was of more concern to him.

"What's more important is the Government committing to what they said they were going to commit to and that is, opening the hospital in 2016," Mr Bleijie said.

"There will be no difference to the health care offered in November 2016 to April 2017, if the doctors and nurses had've been employed.

"This is not businesses versus patients; this is about a government promising to deliver a $2 billion dollar hospital, and a regional economy that will be impacted by a delay by up to five months."

Hospital's role is healthcare

Kevin Hegarty, chief executive of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service said the role of the hospital was to care for the patients.

"My responsibility is to open a hospital successfully, and that's defined by making sure that from day one, the patient care and the safety of patients are assured," he said.

Mr Hegarty also said the project had already injected money into the local economy, and that growth was set to increase.

"This is a $1.8 billion project. There have been thousands of construction workers on site and the whole area is a lot busier than it was a year ago," Mr Hegarty said.

"Anyone who's moved into that area and taken that business risk does so knowing that the hospital is not just getting talked about, the hospital is a reality, and will be for decades after decades into the future."

Change in business model

Business expert and executive officer of the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce, Leanne Layfield, said the delay would mean a change for surrounding business, but it was not a priority of the hospital.

Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie and other concerned business operators and experts at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Photo: Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie met with concerned business operators and experts. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Harriet Tatham)

"The hospital board has made the decision, based on the advice and information that's been given to them, about the time that's required in order that it open so all processes, procedures and staff are able to deliver a wonder service that's completely safe," Ms Layfield said.

"I think that's their focus, and what happens outside of the prescient, others are going to have to deal with and manage as best as they can."

Ms Layfield said the delay should encourage the surrounding industry to rework their business models over the coming months.

"All the businesses will just have to turn their mind to what they can do to exist successfully until such time as the hospital opens and then there's icing in the cake," she said

Source: ABC News

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