04/07/2011 - 12:30

$147m upgrades for country hospitals

04/07/2011 - 12:30

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The state government has revealed details on $147 million of budget commitments for upgrades to six country hospitals in the south of the state.

$147m upgrades for country hospitals

The state government has revealed details on $147 million of budget commitments for upgrades to six country hospitals in the south of the state.

Premier Colin Barnett, Health Minister Kim Hames and Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls made the announcement of regional hospital upgrades today under the Southern Inland Health Initiative's district hospital and health service investment program.

Under the program Kattanning Hospital will receive $35.4 million for its upgrade, Northam $31.2 million, Narrogin $39.8 million, Merredin $17.4 million, Warren Hospital in Manjimup $14.8 million, and Collie $8.6 million.

The Premier said extensive consultation and planning would be undertaken before any work started on upgrading the hospitals.

"Depending on the outcome of the planning and consultation, the upgrades could include new or refurbished emergency departments, and increased and collocated ambulatory and primary health care services," he said.

"There may be new or refurbished clinical and non clinical areas within the hospitals and the incorporation of rooms for Telehealth to establish networked services for the catchment area."

The Southern Inland Health Initiative is funded under the state government's Royalties for Regions program.

Dr Hames said the $565million Southern Inland Health Initiative included $325million for capital works over the next five years as well as a $240million investment in the health workforce.

"The WA Country Health Service, on behalf of the State Government, will lead the reform and continue to work closely with local communities, local government and country health agencies as part of the service planning process," Dr Hames said.

"The WA Country Health Service is about to commence a substantial recruitment drive for private general practitioners across Australia and internationally as part of the Southern Inland Health Initiative.

"The appointment of a project director for the initiative is also imminent."

Dr Hames said the initiative included six streams which included:

- $182.9million District Medical Workforce Investment Program to significantly improve medical resources and 24-hour emergency response across the districts

- $147.4million District Hospital and Health Services Investment program will provide major upgrades at six district hospitals. Funding will redevelop and enhance the campuses at Northam, Narrogin, Merredin, Katanning, Manjimup (Warren Hospital) and Collie. Recurrent funding of $26million will also be provided under this program to boost primary health care services across each district

- $43.4million Primary Health Care Demonstration Program will provide communities with the opportunity to re-examine how health services are delivered in their districts. Funding will be made available to boost primary health services for communities which opt in

- $36.5million Telehealth Investment will introduce innovative 'e' technology and the increased use of Telehealth technology across the region, including equipment upgrades

- $20million Residential Aged Care and Dementia Investment Program will provide incentive for private providers to expand options for residential aged care and dementia care across the southern inland area

- The Small Hospital and Nursing Post Refurbishment Program will provide $108.8million for capital works program for small hospitals and nursing posts to be refurbished or, if required, rebuilt to enable delivery of contemporary health care services that will match the needs of the respective communities.

Mr Grylls said the initiative would deliver the a higher standard of health care for people living in regional areas.

"Royalties for Regions is setting a new paradigm for country people because it is injecting totally new money into the regions," Mr Grylls said.

"As well as capital improvements, this initiative will also significantly increase the number of private general practitioners to improve medical resources and 24-hour emergency coverage across the southern inland area."

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