Cilento, by George
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.