A promised PET scanner will be delivered to Warrnambool Base Hospital - a first for the region - with the state government making good on an election promise for the lifesaving equipment.
Warrnambool is one of eight hospitals to get a share of $44 million set aside in Tuesday's state budget for the new scanners.
South West Healthcare chief executive officer Craig Fraser welcomed the funding and said the PET scanner was a first for Warrnambool and would mean people wouldn't have to travel to Geelong and Melbourne for tests.
"It is a significant piece of equipment and it's a significant investment to get into Warrnambool," he said.
Mr Fraser said the aim was for it to be installed before the major $380 million redevelopment of the hospital gets under way.
But the hospital also needs "expert staff" to run it when it does arrive.
"So now that it has been funded, we can get on with that," Mr Fraser said.
In announcing the funding confirmation, Labor MP Jacinta Ermacora said it would mean earlier access to lifesaving care.
"Patients waiting on testing for cancer, cardiovascular disease or neurological disease can get the answers they need sooner and without travelling," she said.
The member for Western Victoria also announced additional funding for women's health with more laparoscopies for public patients and referrals to the hospital's women's clinic.
Ms Ermacora said too often women's symptoms were ignored or health issues minimised.
"For too long the taboo around talking about women's health has meant women have suffered silently with pain and medical conditions for which they should have received support and treatment," she said.
Ms Ermacora said the women's health clinic at the hospital was already changing the way women's health was treated by providing care and support for conditions like endometriosis, pelvic pain, polycystic ovary syndrome, peri-menopause and menopause.
In the wake of Tuesday's "tough" budget, member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said the hospital revamp would be delayed.
"We so desperately need the accident and emergency and theatre upgrades, yet there is a blowout on time," she said. "We cannot continue to put these staff under pressure."
The appointment of a contractor to build the revamped $380 million hospital is expected to be made in the coming months after the project went out to tender in December last year.
A Victorian government spokesman said site preparations were on track to start at the hospital this year with main works on the new tower expected to start in 2024. "The redevelopment is on track to open in 2027," the spokesperson said.
Funding for the $384.2 million hospital redevelopment was included in the 2020-21 state budget.
Work on the new off-site Regional Logistics Distribution Centre, which will provide commercial linen services and a healthcare supply and logistics warehouse, is expected to be completed in December.
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