This week’s budget documents show that the government expects by the end of this fiscal year it will spend just $ 94 million on 10 public hospitals, which is $ 54 million less than expected a year ago.
Land needs to be purchased and locations identified for at least three of the 10 public hospitals, which are smaller facilities designed to treat patients who are not in critical condition.
Although the government has named a preferred location for Packenham Hospital, its acquisition of the land is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
A government spokesman said construction is expected to begin “at most facilities this year”.
“We are committed to delivering all 10 public hospitals by the end of 2024, and despite the challenges and delays associated with COVID-19, we are on track to meet that commitment,” he said.
Thirty minutes after the prime minister visited Melton Hospital on Wednesday, opposition leader Matthew Guy arrived to criticize the government’s pace of construction.
“Four years ago, Labor said they would build a hospital on the site,” Guy said. “They’re just pulling Melton’s people.”
Marcus Watson, a therapist from Melton who is part of the Build Melton Hospital advocacy group, said he was disappointed that the government had not yet begun building what was a desperately needed facility.
“The urgency of the project doesn’t seem to be drowning,” Watson said.
“They had four years after the last election, and all we have to show … is an empty pen.”
Questions have been raised about one of the promised public hospitals, and now the government is looking for a new site.
Documents obtained by the Friends of Apollo Parkways group under freedom of information laws show that Foley bypassed two sites for Eltham Area Public Hospital that were recommended by government analysis for site selection. Since then, the site has been blocked by the Nilumbik Council.
Authorities at the Victorian Building Health Service rated the Eltham site 62% fit – below the other two on the list, which ran 70% and 85% – because of its “relative isolation, lack of public transportation and limited amenities nearby,” the agency said. analysis.
Grant Brooker of the Friends of Apollo Parkways group, which opposed the originally selected site, asked why the land was chosen. “This promise is now two years late due to all the time spent searching for an option that was clearly wrong,” he said.
Dr Roderick McRay, president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association, praised the idea of a public hospital program and said it would give what the prime minister has said over the past week: treating patients closer to their homes.
“Community hospitals are taking the load off Melbourne’s main hospitals that were under pressure before COVID began, and there was an awareness of that constant pressure,” McRae said.
“They allow for treatment for simpler procedures closer to home, and as a result, it’s supported and it’s a good investment.”
Opposition spokeswoman for health issues Georgie Crozier said the government had failed to deliver for the Victorians.
“There have been years of mismanagement, and now Daniel Andrews is more interested in PR and promotion than in understanding the health crisis that threatens the lives of Victorians,” Crozier said.
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