Western Melbourne will receive a massive health boost under bolstered plans for a major new hospital in Melton.
The Andrews Government will today announce Western Health will operate a “cutting-edge hospital of the future” in Melton, offering 24-hour and specialist care.
Final plans and costs for the hospital in Toolern, outside Melton, will be developed next year after a consultant is appointed to carry out planning and design.
But the decision to hand control of the hospital to one of Victoria’s largest public health services signals a major metropolitan tertiary centre is planned for the fast-growing region, rather than a smaller community operated one.
As revealed by the Herald Sun in August last year, a high-powered push for a 24-hour Melton hospital called for a full emergency department, specialist cardiac and intensive care units and cardiac and acute surgery theatres.
The development will also have ramifications for the troubled Bacchus Marsh Hospital, which may also be taken over by Western Health.
With Melton’s population set to pass 250,000 by 2031, acting Health Minister Martin Foley said it was vital the region had a major hospital linked to the $1.5 billion new Footscray hospital and the new Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
While the cost of the Melton development is not known, it is estimated to be in the region of $1 billion.
“As one of the fastest growing communities in Australia, Melton locals deserve a world-class, 24-hour public hospital, right on their doorstep,” Mr Foley said.
“Melton’s new hospital will be in trusted hands. Western Health has a proud track record providing the highest quality care to patients throughout Melbourne’s booming western suburbs.”
The government has so far invested $2.4 million in a business case for the new hospital and short-listed six consultants to plan and find the best site for the hospital.
A principal consultant is expected to be announced early next year.
The fallout from the Bacchus Marsh baby deaths scandal, in which 11 babies were found to have died in potentially avoidable circumstances, added to the push for a new hospital in the region.
But having invested more than $10 million to overhaul Bacchus Marsh hospital since the tragedies were uncovered four years ago, the state government appears certain to retain a service in the town just 15 minutes from Melton.
However, the Herald Sun has confirmed Djerriwarrh Health Service is discussing options to “amalgamate” with Western Health in light of the Melton development.
In a joint statement yesterday, Western Health and Djerriwarrh Health Services said the new Melton Hospital development opened the way for “a wider examination of the future of healthcare needs of Melbourne’s west”.
“Given this major development in the two catchments, and following four years of close partnership between the services, the Western Health board and Djerriwarrh Health Services administrator have agreed to explore the best possible options and opportunities for healthcare in Melbourne’s west,” the statement read.
“The exploration will include the potential benefits of an amalgamation of services, which … would need to be voluntary and agreed between boards — and benefit the community.”