Warrnambool's new mayor Tony Herbert has called on both major political parties to pledge funding to deliver the full second stage of the Warrnambool Base Hospital redevelopment.
Cr Herbert said given that millions of dollars had been invested in the development of a master plan for the hospital's expansion, it was reasonable to expect that the next Victorian government would deliver on health facilities that met the needs of the south-west.
The hospital needs a new emergency department and operating theatres.
"We have had the Liberal Party give a commitment to get on and do what needs to be done," he said.
"We need to hear the Labor Party make a pledge to implement the master plan that it has funded, having already spent in excess of $7 million on the plan.”
The original estimate for stage two of the redevelopment was $112 million but final costing have not been released prompting speculation the work could cost about $400 million.
Liberal South West Coast MP Roma Britnell, who is seeking re-election, has not committed to a funding figure. But a spokesman for Mrs Britnell said it was simply not known how much stage two would cost. "The government has kept that secret. We'll put a dollar price on it. We are committed to the full stage two redevelopment," he said.
Labor South West Coast candidate Kylie Gaston said a re-elected Labor government would reclassify the hospital from a level three to level two, resulting in higher nurse-to-patient ratios.
She was tight-lipped about whether the reclassification could be a precursor to a commitment for funding for stage two upgrades.
“I would say all things bode well for investment in the south-west from the Labor Government if re-elected. We can keep crossing our fingers,” she said.
Cr Herbert said that as Warrnambool grew the city needed to be able to meet the needs of the region.
"Warrnambool's Base Hospital is providing service to a catchment that extends well beyond the municipal boundary," he said.
"It is up to the Victorian Government, regardless of which political party is leading it, to deliver an improved hospital for the south-west.
“The most liveable city in Victoria must have a facility it deserves. Strong health facilities like our hospital and of course our new cancer centre already deliver world-class care and will help drive our economy and attract more people to our regions from Melbourne.
"There is more to Victoria than Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley," he said.
Recent Victorian government regional hospital funding has included a $79 million upgrade, opened earlier this year, at the Latrobe Regional Hospital and a $217 million pledge from the Labor Party for a further redevelopment.
There was also $461.6 million announced in May for a new hospital in Ballarat and a new $630 million hospital was opened in August at Bendigo.