Three vie to build new cancer centre

THREE separate bidders are vying to construct the south-west’s new cancer centre, less than four years after medical supremos ignored the proposal.

Geelong’s Barwon Health, Richmond’s Epworth Healthcare and Sydney-based Genesis Care have all been short-listed by the state government as a start date for construction approaches.

Premier Denis Napthine said the expressions of interest process had generated a considerable response. 

Proposals for what is being termed the South West Radiotherapy Centre will be submitted in June with construction expected to start later this year.

“This is a terrific achievement to have not one, not two but three health care operators saying they want to build the Warrnambool centre,” Dr Napthine said.

“What this tender process means is that we have major players wanting to be part of this project.

‘‘There’ll be a process to determine who is the best candidate and then there’ll be heading right into construction phase.”

The new site — located close to Warrnambool Base Hospital — will house two radiotherapy bunkers and a physics-planning area which will include one computed tomography (CT) machine.

Dr Napthine said no construction finish date had been set but he was determined to see the centre open for business “as soon as possible”.

Peter’s Project founder Vicki Jellie said the tender process was an important milestone for the push for an integrated cancer centre.

She said the momentum behind the community campaign had moved up several levels during the past 12 months.

“Who would have thought we’d be this close in such a short period of time?” Mrs Jellie said.

“We’ve now got $15 million from the state government, up from $5 million originally, another $10 million from the federal government — all in less than 12 months.”     

South West Healthcare’s old dental clinic was demolished this week to make way for the new radiotherapy centre as the tender process is narrowed down.

Peter’s Project was formed in March 2009 and following initial lobby work by key committee members, the campaign was made public in February 2010.

In 2010, several medical administrators and the State Health Department claimed the centre could not be built as the south-west’s population base was considered to be too small.

Following major state and federal contributions during the past two years, a community-based fund-raising campaign was launched eight months ago with a $5 million target.

The tally reached $4 million three months ago.

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