AN upgraded – or even new - hospital for Goulburn could soon be a reality following an announcement of $600,000 towards redevelopment plans by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.
The Southern NSW Local Health District Board will determine the scope of the works based on the future clinical needs of the hospital after extensive local consultation.
Minister Skinner told the Post on Wednesday that the core of the hospital itself urgently needed to be replaced.
“This money will allow the planning committee to look at things such as a new emergency department, more in-patient care, a new Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU),” she said.
“This process will determine what is needed where, and then we can get on with allocating the funds to make it happen.”
Planning has already commenced and it is anticipated to be finalised by the end of the year.
The minister didn’t rule out the possibility of an entirely new hospital building.
“Whether the construction of the new hospital would all be done in one hit, or whether it would be done in stages would certainly be factored into the recommendations,” she said.
“First of all we have got to determine the extent of what we’re doing here and we expect this planning process to be completed by the end of this year.
“It then goes ‘into the mix’ when we’re considering the allocation of our capital funding, which is usually done on a year-by-year basis.
“But I can assure you that this planning money will mean that Goulburn is well and truly a priority.
“I do have a feeling though from some of my previous visits that part of the core of this hospital cannot be redeveloped because of the load bearing nature of the walls.
“So that may mean ‘do we look at a new hospital alongside what is currently here, do we in-fill, demolish part of it, etc’- those are the kind of things that will need to be looked at in this planning process.
“It’s not just a matter of ‘get a map and draw what you want’, you’ve got to look at what’s existing, and it is complex it won’t just be a matter of talking to people and just building a hospital we will engage proper planners.”
Mayor Geoff Kettle, who attended Wednesday’s announcement with Member for Goulburn Pru Goward, SNSWLHD CEO Dr Max Alexander and General Manager Kerry Hort told the Post that the funding announcement was the culmination of nearly four years of communications between the council and the State Government.
“Let’s not sugar coat this, I mean there’s still a lot of work to go,” he said.
“This is an announcement of $600,000 towards further planning for a new ‘brownfields’ development of this site which we have needed for many, many years,” he said.
“There has already been a major investment in Goulburn Base Hospital with the addition of the new Sub-Acute Rehabilitation unit, the new operating theatres and the revamped emergency department, so it makes perfect sense that the redevelopment is of this particular site.
“We all know that the wards are way past their days. It’s basically only because of the dedication and commitment of the great staff of this hospital that the older part of the hospital continues in the best way that it can.”
He also thanked the government and the minister for making Goulburn a priority.
“It’s a credit to the government and particularly a credit to the minister and to the LHD and all the work that’s gone in to us continually knocking on the door saying ‘We’re next, we’re next, we bloody well need it,’ he said.
“All I can say is thank you to the minister for committing to this funding, and I know there’s a lot of bridges to cross yet, but once the planning process is completed by the end of this year, the next hurdle needs to happen and that is the model of which way the redevelopment will take place.”