The University of Wollongong and Illawarra Business Chamber are among those welcoming the NSW government's commitment of an additional $320 million for a new, world-class hospital at Shellharbour.
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth said it would not only create 2800 jobs during construction but also provide significant opportunities for a wide range of local providers.
It would also enable the government to partner with local private sector health providers and benefit from the significant expertise at the University of Wollongong in delivering world-class health services at the new hospital.
Mr Zarth said local businesses would also welcome the Premier's commitment to using local suppliers during construction, and encouraged the government to continue to support the region throughout the operational life of the hospital.
"The new hospital should establish firm partnerships with our excellent local health providers such Ramsay Health Care, who operate several private hospitals across the Illawarra, and Healthe Care, who provide mental health services at South Coast Private," he said.
UOW vice-chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said the decision to construct an entirely new facility on a greenfield site would not only increase opportunities to attract world-class clinicians but better address the Illawarra's future growth, changing demographics and changing health needs.
Prof Wellings said UOW considered the health and wellbeing of the community to be vital to its future development. "Having a newly built, world-class medical facility in proximity to a world-class university that is developing the next generation of healthcare professionals while undertaking ground-breaking medical research, can be a catalyst for positive change for our region and beyond," he said.
Prof Wellings said the significant investment by the government would also provide opportunities for health workforce development, increased health translational research and improved patient-centred care. He said the announcement was also well timed as he prepared to hand over the vice-chancellor reins next year to one of the world's leading nursing academics in Professor Patricia Davidson. And it came as UOW continued its growth in the health and medicine fields and closer co-operation with the region's clinical communities.
"UOW has had the region's health and wellbeing at the heart of its long-term vision for many years with its medicine and nursing schools and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) in partnership with the local health district."
Prof Wellings said UOW's commitment to the region's health needs was recently outlined in its Health and Wellbeing Strategy, led by deputy vice-chancellor health and communities Professor Alison Jones.
He said that has already seen the construction of Molecular Horizons as a world-leading molecular life sciences research facility as well as the Mind the Gap mental health services facility in the Shoalhaven.
Prof Wellings said preparations were also underway to establish with the help of key partners, a Health and Wellbeing Precinct at its North Wollongong Innovation Campus.
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