June 23, 2016: Constituency Question regarding Warrnambool Base Hospital

My question is to the Minister for Health. When will the minister visit Warrnambool Base Hospital to view for herself the need for an upgrade? South West Healthcare is the largest provider of healthcare services in my electorate of South-West Coast.

The emergency department is becoming too small to handle the increasing number of people presenting. Due to lack of space, the dedicated staff cannot meet the 4-hour key performance indicator to treat emergency patients, and with the population in my electorate rising, it is only going to get worse.

The operating theatres have not been expanded since I worked in them as a nurse during the 1980s. Last month the minister visited Port Fairy to make two very welcome funding announcements. What I do not understand is why she snubbed the Warrnambool Base Hospital and did not make the effort to visit. She was just 20 minutes away.

The chief executive officer, John Krygger, has invited her, the shadow Minister for Health has invited her and I have invited her, but she is yet to take up the offer.

We are confident that if the minister viewed the operating suites and the emergency departments, she would see with her own eyes just how vital this upgrade is.

Answer from the Hon. Jill Hennessy, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services:

 The previous Labor Government approved over $115 million funding for the stage one development at the Warrnambool Base campus of South West Healthcare.

The scope of the work included increased patient bed numbers with a new intensive care unit, special care nursery, inpatient unit and palliative care suites.

Stage one also supported the establishment of the Deakin Medical School and provided new support facilities such as car parks, foyer and pharmacy.  The project was completed in August 2012.

Since the completion of the stage one development, South West Healthcare has been able to consolidate its role in serving the people of the five local government areas that make up the South West: City of Warrnambool and the Shires of Moyne, Glenelg, Southern Grampians and Corangamite.

Recent capital developments include a new $25 million radiotherapy centre, which is open and now treating patients, as well as a new residential mental health facility providing 8 beds and 2 day places, plus an additional 5 bed extended care unit.

This facility is due to be completed mid 2017 at a cost of $4.8 million.

Planning for redevelopment and expansion of health services is based on a range of factors including an analysis of demographics, burden of disease and projected health service demand.

This is done in collaboration with the relevant public health service providers and also in the context of other Statewide priorities.

The Department of Health and Human Services will continue to work together with local health organisations in strengthening and building upon the existing health system and infrastructure to ensure access to quality, contemporary and sustainable health services are provided to Victorian residents.

After $1 billion in cuts under the former Liberal Government and chronic underinvestment in capital, health services across Victoria are in need funding to rebuild, renew and expand. That is why in the 2016 -17 State Budget, the Labor Government has provided $200 million for a new Regional Health Infrastructure Fund.

This fund is the largest of its kind in Victorian history and will provide for upgrades to rural and regional health services, community health services, bush nursing centres and bush nursing hospitals.

Applications for the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund are currently being received.  South West Healthcare are eligible to apply to this fund.

I look forward to visiting South West Health when I am next in the region.