Future proofing the health of our regions
The Nationals in Government are building hospitals and health centres that will serve both us and generations to come. The 2017-18 NSW Budget will deliver $1.7 billion in new capital works, with $550 million invested over the next financial year to kick start projects around the state.
The largest development is the half-billion dollar hospital for Tweed Heads. This hospital will serve the needs of the Tweed for decades to come and provide world class specialist care for the Far North of NSW.
But a new hospital for Tweed is just the beginning. New and significant expansions announced in the 2017-18 Budget include:
- New hospital for Maitland (estimated cost $450 million)
- Wagga Wagga Hospital Stage 1 expansion (estimated cost $200 million)
- Coffs Harbour Hospital Expansion (estimated cost $156 million)
- Goulburn Hospital Redevelopment (estimated cost $120 million)
- Mudgee Hospital Redevelopment (estimated cost $70.2 million)
- Lismore Hospital Redevelopment Stage 3c (estimated cost $52.5 million)
- Macksville Hospital Redevelopment (estimated cost $73 million)
- Inverell Hospital Redevelopment (estimated cost $30 million)
The Budget also committed to continuing projects at Armidale, Ballina, Broken Hill, Bulli, Dubbo, Grafton, John Hunter, Manning, Muswellbrook, Parkes, Forbes, Port Macquarie and Singleton hospitals.
As well as this, funding is also earmarked for Griffith and Tumut hospitals to begin the planning stage of their future upgrades.
Nationals Leader and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro highlighted the Government’s commitment to health care and the health services industry in the country.
“We want to see our regional communities to continue to grow and the best way to do that is to build world-class health services that create jobs and deliver vital services,” he said.
However, this Budget was not just only about large hospital complexes. $300 million was announced for the continued development of multi-purpose services (MPS) which offer integrated care in small communities, focussing on emergency and aged care facilities. This has been a significant area of investment with construction underway in Molong, Bonalbo, Coolah, Culcairn and Rylstone with planning underway for MPS facilities at Barham, Cobar, Tumbarumba, Harden, Braidwood, Yass and Murrurundi. Last year over $200 million was spent on MPS centres with buildings completed at Walgett, Tocumwal and Holbrook.
Our Regional Ambulance Network will be redeveloped at a total cost of $122 million to deliver new, upgraded or rebuilt ambulance stations to accommodate the new generation of ambulances, many of which are too large to fit into older stations. Funding is immediately available to stations for capital works construction underway for upgrades to ambulance stations at Ardlethan, Coolamon and Harden with Griffith, Molong and Bathurst in the planning phase.
A total of 17 new or upgraded regional ambulance stations have been budgeted for, with more details to be released as plans progress. The ambulance radio network is also to be replaced at a cost of $10 million as part of a $177.7 million overhaul of regional first-responders communication technology over the next two years.
Mental health is to receive a record $1.9 billion over 2017-18, with a focus on shifting mental health care out of hospitals and into communities as a part of the NSW Mental Health reforms. The Mid-North Coast is to benefit significantly with $10.6 million secured to continue the Port Macquarie Mental Health Expansion.
The Helicopter Retrieval Service has received a $30 million funding boost, with Tamworth, Orange and Lismore to receive an additional flight team of doctors and paramedics, allowing the services to operate 24/7. Expanding the service of these major bases will provide round the clock air support for critically injured patients in regional areas, improving patient outcomes by slashing travel time to hospitals.
Last, but certainly not least, the men and women at the coal-face of our health system have received additional support. As part of the Government’s 2015 election commitment to employ an additional 360 specialist nursing, midwifery and clinical support positions, $8.7 million has been allocated to recruit an additional 55 specialist nurses and midwives and 30 Clinical Support Officers, with many of these expected to be based in the regions.
An additional $2.3 million will go towards an extra five rural generalist and 15 medical specialist training positions and extra medical, allied health and oral health scholarships. As part of the NSW Government’s unprecedented $100 million spend on palliative care $300,000 will be directed towards 300 scholarships to upskill regional and rural nurses in the industry.
For regional paramedics who are so often the difference between life and death, there will be relief in the form of new colleagues, with 50 new paramedics recruited into the regional areas.