Ci­lento, by Ge­orge

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS | OPINION -

QUEENS­LAND’S sig­na­ture pub­lic chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal could have been named af­ter a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily.

The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment is wrestling with whether or not it should re­name the Lady Ci­lento Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, fol­low­ing a con­certed cam­paign by doc­tors. But in the hos­pi­tal’s early stages, the for­mer Newman gov­ern­ment had also wres­tled with names, con­sid­er­ing us­ing Prince Ge­orge’s.

The south­east cor­ner al­ready has three hos­pi­tals named af­ter roy­als – Princess Alexandra, Queen El­iz­a­beth and Prince Charles. And there is also the Royal Bris­bane and Women’s.

Sev­eral sources from the Newman gov­ern­ment have con­firmed there was dis­cus­sion about con­tin­u­ing that theme and nam­ing the state’s lat­est pub­lic hos­pi­tal – a $1.5 bil­lion chil­dren’s fa­cil­ity – af­ter Prince Ge­orge, who was born in July 2013 just as the gov­ern­ment was look­ing for op­tions.

They say it was re­jected for a num­ber of rea­sons, in­clud­ing the re­luc­tance of the Palace to agree to the nam­ing of any­thing af­ter a new­born royal.

The po­ten­tial hon­our for Prince Ge­orge was soon put on the back­burner.

The for­mer gov­ern­ment asked pub­lic ser­vants to pro­vide a rec­om­men­da­tion as to who the hos­pi­tal should be named af­ter.

They sug­gested pi­o­neer­ing fe­male medic Lady Phyl­lis Ci­lento. The choice was re­vealed in Novem­ber 2013 and the hos­pi­tal was opened a year later.

The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment Cab­i­net is now set to de­cide within weeks whether or not to re­name the hos­pi­tal as the Queens­land Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, af­ter hun­dreds of doc­tors joined a cam­paign to lobby Health Min­is­ter Steven Miles to ditch Lady Ci­lento’s name, ar­gu­ing it was con­fus­ing for pa­tients.

Doc­tors say they also be­lieve the name is strug­gling to earn recog­ni­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally, ham­per­ing at­tempts to gain at­ten­tion for re­search at the fa­cil­ity.

The hos­pi­tal’s board has backed the doc­tors in sup­port­ing a name change, as has the body charged with rais­ing cash for the fa­cil­ity, the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion.

Queens­land Health qui­etly com­mis­sioned its own mar­ket re­search. It found that while more than 80 per cent of those sur­veyed recog­nised the hos­pi­tal by name, only about half were con­fi­dent it was a pub­lic fa­cil­ity.

The Gov­ern­ment also launched its own poll. It at­tracted more than 38,000 votes with more than 60 per cent sup­port­ing the re­nam­ing. Those against have their on­line pe­ti­tion and have been lob­by­ing the Gov­ern­ment. To date, more than 1800 have signed the pe­ti­tion.

Mem­bers of Lady Ci­lento’s fam­ily have ex­pressed dis­plea­sure at any re­nam­ing. Her son David Ci­lento, 82, has said it would “dis­hon­our a per­son who did so much for Queens­land and Aus­tralia”.

For­mer premier Campbell Newman has ac­cused La­bor of act­ing out of spite.

“Lady Ci­lento was ar­guably the lead­ing fe­male clin­i­cian in the last 100 years and the La­bor Party want to erase her place in his­tory,” he has said.

Dr Miles in­sists the state had no in­ten­tion of dis­parag­ing her name, say­ing it was about the doc­tors, their con­cerns and their pa­tients, with work un­der­way to as­sess the costs and lo­gis­tics of a change.

The state has promised Lady Ci­lento would still be hon­oured. Op­tions be­ing con­sid­ered in­clude re­nam­ing the hos­pi­tal au­di­to­rium af­ter her in­stead.

Whether that will be enough to ap­pease her fam­ily re­mains to be seen.

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