State budget 2014: Illawarra hospitals share building boom

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Illawarra and South Coast hospitals shared in a $1.3 billion building boom for NSW hospitals in the 2014-15 state budget.

No new major hospital or health projects were announced for the region, however the big infrastructure spend included funding allocations for major projects already underway.

The remaining $47 million was delivered for the Wollongong Hospital expansion, which should be finished by the end of next year.

The elective surgical services centre - worth a total of $106 million - includes an expansion of the emergency department and a new ambulatory care centre, as well as seven operating theatres, 60 new surgical beds, 14 recovery beds, 12 extended day-only beds and six more intensive care unit beds.

One-third of the funding - or $10.3 million - was also allocated in the 2014-15 budget for Wollongong Hospital’s car park expansion.

Previous costings for the project, which will take the total number of parking spaces at the hospital to about 1400, had come in at $27.8 million but in the budget papers the cost estimate had climbed to $30.5 million.

There were funds too for Shellharbour Hospital, with $6.7 million allocated to start a new ambulatory care facility and to continue planning for the hospital’s redevelopment.

Shellharbour Hospital will also share in $12.7 million for planning future works with six other health facilities across the state.

Bulli Hospital’s transformation into an aged care centre of excellence is also one step closer, with around $8 million allocated in this year’s budget to begin construction.

It represents more than half of the total $14.5 million granted to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District project as part of the $100 million Restart Illawarra infrastructure fund.

Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka said the government’s ‘‘record spend’’ on health in the Illawarra was testament to its ‘‘health care commitment’’.

“I welcome the $779 million in recurrent funding for health in the Illawarra this financial year, which represents growth of six per cent, as well as $71.6 million for health capital such as Wollongong car park and Bulli Hospital,’’ he said. “Better patient care is a priority for the NSW Government.” 

Kiama MP Gareth Ward welcomed the health dollars and said he would continue to campaign for more as the region grew.

‘‘Wollongong Hospital is now on track to finish in 2015 and there’s been funding for Shellharbour Hospital for an ambulatory care facility and also for planning for the major redevelopment that’s needed.

‘‘I’d like to see some solid funds for Shellharbour Hospital in next year’s budget but planning is important so you invest in the right services and facilities.

‘‘Meanwhile funding from the Illawarra infrastructure fund has come through for Bulli, and money from that fund has also been earmarked for an upgrade of Kiama Hospital.’’

Keira MP Ryan Park said he was pleased to see the partial funding for Bulli Hospital’s upgrade after three years of campaigning on behalf of the community.

‘‘Now we need this money to come as soon as possible so that Bulli Hospital can remain and continue to provide excellent services to the community,’’ he said.

Further south $72.5 million was delivered to continue work on the South East Regional Hospital in Bega. The total cost of the project, set for completion in 2016, is $187 million.

The Bega ambulance station also received a $911,000 boost, with the $2.8 million project to be finished next year.

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