WORK is set to begin on what will be the largest and most sophisticated hospital outside of a metropolitan area in NSW, and local health professionals are anticipating an influx of doctors, surgeons and specialists upon completion.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the sheer scale and size of the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital redevelopment couldn’t be underestimated.
“This is the single largest hospital rebuild happening in regional NSW right now,” she said.
“The community alongside their local MP Daryl Maguire have championed this rebuild and it means a lot to be here today to see this redevelopment – which was promised for so long – become a reality.”
She said the facility would change the way health care was delivered to the community once the new acute hospital building was complete in 2015.
Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Melinda Pavey said before long the community would see the multi-million dollar rebuild growing from the ground.
Mr Maguire said the campaign for the facility had been a long one “and many didn’t believe this day would ever come”.
“Main works are beginning earlier than anticipated and we are well on our way to delivering an impressive facility for the people of Wagga Wagga,” Mr Maguire said.
The new acute hospital will deliver an enhanced emergency department, operating theatres, women’s and children’s replacement inpatient units, new intensive care and high dependency units, angiography suites, additional inpatient beds and a rooftop helipad.
The $282 million redevelopment is a jointly funded project, with the NSW government providing $215 million and the Australian government contributing $55.1 million from its Health and Hospitals Fund Program.
A further $12 million has been allocated from the Australian government under the Council of Australian Governments New Sub-Acute Beds Guarantee for 20 sub-acute mental health beds.
While on a two-day visit to Wa-gga Mrs Skinner also announced $400,000 to progress planning for the next stage of the Wagga Base Hospital redevelopment covering ambulatory care and rehabilitation services.
Medical Staff Council chairman Dr Richard Harrison, Wagga, said the redevelopment was a gift courtesy of the hard work of the Wagga community, health workers and local politicians.
Dr Harrison (pictured) described the current state of the hospital as a “decrepit wreck” stuck in the 1920s.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that this will be the largest non-metropolitan hospital in the State,” Dr Harrison said.
“We’ll virtually be metropolitan in our services.”
Dr Harrison said the redevelopment was a major step in the attracting, recruiting and retaining of medical professionals to the region.
He said in the past 15 years the number of specialists in Wagga had jumped from 50 to 100.
“Wagga is bursting at the seams, and the hospital services around 250,000 people from Wagga down to the Victorian border, the South Australian border and towards Young, Yass, Gundagai and Tumut,” he said.
“The big issue is getting doctors to regional areas, and it’s all about people understanding that to get great doctors to the country, you need quality facilities.
“Wagga Base Hospital will be a magnet for doctors, physiotherapists, radiographers, surgeons and other medical professionals.”
Dr Harrison said the redevelopment was an example of why funding was so important for medical facilities.
Planning will commence in early 2014 and it is anticipated the first stage of planning will be finalised by late 2014.
The Upper Hunter region will also gain a boost in health services, with plans by the Hunter New England Local Health District now complete.
Member for Upper Hunter George Souris said hospitals and health facilities in the Upper Hunter would benefit from the Clinical Services Plan, which recommended upgrades to services at Singleton and Muswellbrook hospitals as well as upgrading health services at Murrurundi.
A major new referral hospital in the Maitland region was also a key recommendation, and all hospitals including Gloucester, Dungog, Scone and Quirindi and Multi Purpose Services at Merriwa, Murrurundi and Denman will be upgraded and maintained as needed.