by Michael Giles

WHEN you consider that a whole hospital was built at Leongatha for $35 million only a few short years ago, we’re talking about serious, very serious money being committed to the Wonthaggi hospital last Friday.
And the Andrews Government needs to be heartily congratulated by this community for being the ones to stump up, not only $32 million for a new senior secondary campus in the town, but also stage one of the sub-regional hospital funding as well.
You’d have to think that $115 million is going to buy one hell of an improvement to the standard of health services locally and the acid will now be on the State Government, the Department of Health and Human Services, the board and management of Bass Coast Health, the unions and the building contractors to deliver real value for money for this deserving community.
We are not, for example, going to put up with the excesses seen at the desalination construction site and other state government projects from time to time.
We need the very best facilities and equipment this money can buy so that we can attract the skilled health professionals we need to provide the level of service and expertise that’s going to be required to give everyone the confidence to use this full-service accident and emergency facility.
There has been some of the usual cynicism around winning the seat of Bass in the next State Election, on Saturday, November 24, and there may be an element of that in this announcement.
But there’s a much more pressing issue at stake for the government and that’s the incredible growth in Cranbourne East and surrounding areas, literally driving Victoria’s economy at the moment.
According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week, Cranbourne East has emerged as the fastest growing suburb in Australia, putting on a whopping 27 per cent increase in population in one year, 2016-2017, when more than 7300 people moved into the area, taking the population from 27,000 to 34,000. And that rate of growth has only increased.
Now, those people aren’t going to come to Wonthaggi for accident and emergency treatment but it is estimated that the new facility in Wonthaggi will attract an additional 26,000 admissions annually, mostly our own residents who’ll no longer need to be sent to the Alfred, the Dandenong hospital, Monash, Peninsula health, Warragul and other better equipped hospitals.
It will at least take some pressure off the outer eastern suburbs health services.
The Andrews Government is having to unload massive amounts for infrastructure, and rightly so, in the Cranbourne area and hopefully the road network and public transport systems also get a big boost, presenting obvious benefits for Bass Coast and South Gippsland as well.
So, this news is indeed welcome but now the hard work of getting value for money and attracting talented health professionals begins.