The new Shellharbour Hospital will be built on a greenfield site in Dunmore, the state government has revealed, under a $721.3 million revamp of the Illawarra's health services.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced on Thursday that a parcel of land on Dunmore Road had been chosen as the preferred site for the new facility.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District chief executive officer Margot Mains said the new hospital would deliver a significant boost in capacity.
"On this site, we will see an increase in our emergency department capacity by up to 70 per cent," Ms Mains said.
"We will see significant growth in our theatres, we will see a doubling in our overnight surgical beds, we will see a tripling in our day surgical beds, we will see a 30 per cent increase in medical beds, and the establishment of respiratory and cardiology services.
"We will see new mental health services, and buildings and facilities that will be able to be better caring for our patients."
As well as expanded capacity, the new hospital will include rehabilitation and aged care, acute medical services, mental health services, renal dialysis, and outpatients and ambulatory care services.
Mr Hazzard said it would also offer antenatal and postnatal care, but birthing services would continue solely at Wollongong Hospital until there was sufficient demand at Shellharbour.
He said the new hospital would be built with space for birthing services in the future.
Under the government's plans for the region's health services, the 56-year-old Port Kembla Hospital will also close, and its services will move to Bulli Hospital and a new community health centre at Warrawong.
Wollongong Hospital's rehabilitation and palliative care wards will be refurbished, and Bulli Hospital's services will expand.
The chosen site for the new Shellharbour Hospital is owned by Shellharbour City Council and a private owner, with the government to now negotiate the purchase of the land.
However, Mr Hazzard said the government had the power to resume land and the hospital would "definitely" be built there.
He said it was anticipated groundwork would begin in late 2022, and the hospital would open in 2027.
Of the funding allocated for the region's health services, the federal government has provided $128 million.
The NSW Government first announced that a new Shellharbour Hospital would be built on a greenfield site in September 2020.
It had initially announced $251 million to redevelop Shellharbour Hospital as part of its 2015 election campaign, however in September 2016 the then health minister, Jillian Skinner, announced it was one of five regional hospitals to be upgraded under a public-private partnership.
After a community outcry that the hospital would be taken out of public hands, those plans were scrapped in October 2017, with Kiama MP Gareth Ward telling the Mercury at the time that the government would instead go ahead with the $251 million redevelopment of the ageing facility on its current site.
However an additional $128 million of funding announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in May 2019 again raised the possibility that a brand new hospital could be built.
Shellharbour Hospital, at Madigan Blvd, Mount Warrigal, was originally opened in 1986, after many years of lobbying and at a cost of $22 million.
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