$1.2b boost to state hospital infrastructure

Mike Baird. Photo: Michel O’SullivanThe NSW budget for new hospital buildings will increase by 10 per cent this year to $1.2 billion.
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NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said that despite facing a revenue challenge, next week’s budget would invest in critical infrastructure. He said many hospital buildings were more than 50 years old.

“The tough decisions we have made means we will commit more than $1.2 billion in health capital works in Tuesday’s Budget for the coming year,” he said.

“After 16 years of neglect by state Labor, we are rebuilding and upgrading our hospitals so our patients and staff have the facilities they expect and deserve.”

Mr Baird said projects being funded included a $139 million redevelopment at Campbelltown Hospital, another at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital at a cost of $120 million and a new building at Royal North Shore Hospital clinical services building.

Opposition health spokesperson Andrew McDonald said there was no new spending commitments in the capital works budget announcement.

“This is just a business-as-usual budget,” he said.

“This does nothing to address the backlog of patients on the waiting lists.”

NSW Health Minister Mrs Jillian Skinner said the government’s infrastructure spend was boosting hospital staff spirits.

“They expect the environments in which they work to match the high quality of care they deliver to their patients,” she said.

Mrs Skinner said the capital works budget would go towards a new clinical services building at Blacktown Hospital for cancer, cardiac, respiratory and aged care services. The building is due to be completed in 2015.

Brian Owler, president of the NSW Australian Medical Association, said he welcomed an increase in infrastructure funding. He said a 20-year plan was needed for investment in hospital buildings to ensure they met the growing demands of an ageing population.

“There has been an under-investment in hospital infrastructure for decades,” he said.

“We need to make sure we invest in infrastructure needs for the future.”

The AMA has said that recurrent funding for health services also needs to increase by 7 per cent to keep pace with demand.

“Anything less than 7 per cent is going to be seen as a cut,” Dr Owler said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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