Investment in West Gippsland Hospital needs to be front and centre for the Andrews Government with a view to funding the establishment of a new West Gippsland Hospital to deal with population growth and increase in demand, Member for Narracan, Gary Blackwood has said this week.
Mr Blackwood called on the Minister for Health to release the details of a plan that has been developed to explore the future role of the West Gippsland Hospital by the Andrews Government stating there was real concern in the community that the plan would be used to potentially limit the services provided in favour of Latrobe and Casey Hospitals.
‘The Andrews Government’s response to this [demand] prior to the 2014 election was a promise to undertake a health services review of the West Gippsland Hospital in the context of the needs of the Casey and Latrobe Hospitals.
‘I could take this to mean, “lets look at the option of closing West Gippsland Hospital and placing all of our resources into Latrobe and Casey”.
‘Effectively this would force West Gippsland patients to drive at least an hour to get medical treatment. That would be totally unacceptable.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Blackwood said the Baw Baw Shire was continuing to grow and the outstanding service delivery at the West Gippsland Hospital demonstrated investment in a new hospital would be funding well spent.
‘The population of the Baw Baw Shire is around 45,000 and it is predicted to double by 2050,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘The hospital has a reputation in my electorate and more broadly of providing high quality health care [and] currently it is really struggling to cope with the enormous increase in demand for its services.
‘The demand is being fuelled not just by population growth but it is a direct result of the professionalism of the staff and excellent outcomes that are being achieved because of their dedication and commitment.
‘It is a no-brainer that planning must begin to relocate the hospital from the current site of 27 acres to a greenfield site of 60 acres given the current demand and predicted population growth of the area.
‘The hospital’s board of management purchased 60 acres land using the proceeds of a significant bequest back in 2006.
‘The land is perfectly located between Warragul and Drouin, with good access to the Princes Freeway and to both Drouin and Warragul.
‘The combined population of these two major towns is currently at almost 30,000 and is predicted to hit 40,000 by 2025 or earlier,’ Mr Blackwood said.