MORE patients in Gippsland will get access to quality healthcare closer to home, thanks to a major funding boost to rebuild and expand the Wonthaggi Hospital.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Health Jill Hennessy joined Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing in Wonthaggi today to announce $115 million for Bass Coast Health to expand the Wonthaggi Hospital, including a redevelopment of the emergency department.

It is the third time in a month that the Premier has been in the southern part of the Bass electorate, a seat that is believed to be on the front line of Labor’s defence of office, ahead of the Saturday, November 24, 2018 election.

Funded as part of the Victorian Budget 2018/19, this crucial expansion project will build a new operating theatre, refurbish the two existing operating theatres, expand the emergency department and refurbish inpatient rooms to meet the community’s growing needs.

“Every Victorian deserves quality care, close to home. A bigger, better Wonthaggi Hospital will deliver just that for families that live here,” Premier Andrews said in Wonthaggi today.

By 2031, the Bass Coast Shire population is expected to have grown by an extra 55 per cent, making it one of the highest growth areas in regional Victoria. When complete, the hospital will have capacity to treat an extra 26,000 emergency patients per year.

There will be 18 more treatment spaces within the emergency department, including an additional nine spaces for peak demand over the holiday period. A further 32 inpatient beds and four short stay beds will be refurbished.

The upgrade will also reduce the need to transfer critical patients to other hospitals, saving those all-important minutes and seconds, and ensuring patients can stay closer to their families.

“Critical patients will no longer need to be transferred – instead they’ll get the care they need right here, without having to spend nights away from their families,” Mr Andrews said.

The Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, was also back in town after visiting Cowes at the weekend to open the new $6.5 million health hub there.

“After years of cuts to Victorian hospitals under the Liberals, we’re giving our doctors and nurses at Wonthaggi the facilities they need and deserve,” Minister Hennessy said.

To be completed by 2023, the redevelopment will boost the local economy by creating an extra 345 local jobs. The latest Victorian Health Services performance data, released today, shows Wonthaggi Hospital has seen 4327 ED presentations in the last quarter, up from 3982 a year earlier – representing a nine per cent increase.

It also shows a 19 per cent increase – 723 extra presentations – since the Liberals were in government.

“While the Liberals cut $1 billion from our health system and failed to plan for this growth, we’re making the investments needed to expand and rebuild hospitals right across the state. This new investment comes on top of the $1.9 million boost for safety upgrades at Wonthaggi Hospital, delivered as part of our $250 million Regional Health Infrastructure Fund,” Ms Hennessy said.

Local MPs welcome news

Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, is also delighted with the announcement:

“Our community is growing – and we need to be able to keep up with that demand. With more beds and more space, the new Wonthaggi Hospital will be able to treat more patients,” Ms Shing said today.

Brian Paynter MP

The Member for Bass Brian Paynter has welcomed the announcement as a “very significant” one for Wonthaggi, the Bass Coast Shire and the whole sub-region.

He says it is the beginning of the development of a new sub-regional hospital on site at Wonthaggi.

“The announcement that $115 million will be set aside in next Tuesday’s budget for a new accident and emergency centre and operating theatre upstairs, to be built at the front of the hospital, linking into the existing hospital is very worthwhile funding for a significant project that will be welcomed by the community,” Mr Paynter said.

“The board and the management of the hospital has worked so hard for this, with the support of the community and should be congratulated for what has been achieved today.

“I have been working on this for four years so it’s great to see it come to fruition today, albeit in an election year.

“I’ve seen the hospital’s master plan and this is effectively stage one of a complete redevelopment, in three stages, of the hospital and once complete will be a new sub-regional hospital on the existing site.

“The new emergency centre and associated theatres upstairs will be built at the front while the hospital continues on and will be incorporated with the existing services when complete.

“This is where the Wonthaggi hospital will stay and where the sub-regional facility will be built over time,” he said.