THE funding tap has been turned on again for Warrnambool Base Hospital with Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine to today promise $100m to complete the massive redevelopment project which started in 2009 under the former Brumby government.
If re-elected, Dr Napthine says the Coalition will promptly start on planning and construction to get a $30m first phase under way by 2017-18, with the $70m balance to be completed after the 2018 elections.
Warrnambool base hospital is the region’s main health treatment centre and deserves to be equipped with modern facilities capable of handling the expanding population’s needs.
The final stage of redevelopment will feature a new emergency department and updated and expanded operating theatres.
Both are too small for their workload and are liabilities, according to the annual performance target reviews conducted by the Health Department.
About 25,000 patients a year are treated in the emergency department and the operating theatre is at its maximum capacity of 8000 procedures a year, with another 1000 people on the elective surgery waiting list.
The Coalition’s funding announcement recognises a clear need. Now we need a similar promise from Labor to match the package which will ensure that whichever wins government on November 29 will be obliged to make the project happen.
At a time of subdued employment the hospital work will bring new jobs in construction and subsequent medical positions.
Labor has regularly blasted the Coalition’s employment performance and even yesterday Tim Pallas said another 3400 regional Victorians lost their jobs last month, with the unemployment rate rising 0.4 per cent.
“Denis Napthine has done nothing to help communities and companies reeling from the jobs crisis,” he said.
Now here’s a perfect opportunity for the Opposition to come up with cash to stimulate jobs in the Warrnambool district by promising to complete the hospital project.
It would be a healthy boost to the electorate to have all political camps identify the need to complete the redevelopment as soon as possible.