The health system will be one of the big winners in today’s State Budget, according to the NSW Government, with a new, state-of-the-art hospital revealed for the northern Tweed region and upgrades planned for four Sydney hospitals, including the beleaguered Concord Hospital.
As part of what it calls its “record hospital-building boom”, the government has earmarked up to $534 million in the 2017-18 Budget to build a world-class hospital at Tweed Heads to improve health services in a region forecast to grow by more than 40 per cent to 128,000 people by 2031.
Following consultations with senior clinicians on the constraints of the current site, a modern facility was announced to provide more overnight beds, additional operating theatres, a larger emergency department, an integrated cancer care service and enhanced cardiac care services. The project design and construction program is due to be finalised by mid-2018.
Concord Hospital in Sydney’s west has been allocated $191 million, topping up the $150 million promised in 2015, to create updated facilities including Australia's first specialised unit to care for veterans and their families.
The Defence Force Centre of Excellence will provide comprehensive care services for veterans, including those who have brain injuries and drug and alcohol abuse issues.
The hospital will also gain additional ambulatory services and a new cancer centre.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the funding would allow decades-old facilities to be brought up to date.
"I'm very pleased to say that the World War II ramp wards will be consigned to history and be demolished. Those wards [are from] 1941 and they are a bit like a dog's breakfast,” Hazzard said.
"We are going to turn this into a bobby-dazzler of a hospital."
It will be a change in fortunes for a hospital that last year created controversy when it was reported that possums were living in the roof, ceilings were collapsing and sewage was leaking onto public walkways.
Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2017.
Campbelltown Hospital is set to receive a $632m funding injection towards expanding its emergency department, as well as enhanced mental health facilities and paediatric services.
Population growth in the area in Sydney’s outer west has led to a 6 per cent annual increase in emergency department demand in recent years, according to the state government.
Senior staff at Nepean Hospital, also in a high growth area in Sydney’s Penrith, have criticised the $576 million earmarked for that healthcare facility, calling for at least $1 billion dollars in funding to cope with extra capacity.
Meanwhile, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today announced a surprise $720 million upgrade for Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.
The NSW Government has also contributed $100 million towards funding for palliative care services over the next four years, including $17.4 million in the 2017-18 Budget, to support those suffering terminal illness and their families.
NSW Health said it is exploring ehealth and IT solutions as part of its next palliative care strategic plan.