BHS needs $138m for infrastructure

BALLARAT needs $138 million in vital health infrastructure just to keep pace with the city’s ageing and growing population.

The Ballarat Regional Capital Plan outlines a number of health issues faced by Ballarat and calls for state government funding of $60 million for acute care, $12 million for mental health and $66 million for aged care.

An ageing population, high rates of smoking, cardiovascular disease and cancer, a high burden of disease and a shortage of general practitioners are highlighted as significant health challenges for the city.

The Victoria into the Future report released last year showed that in 2021 the projected population of Ballarat would be 113,500 people, up from the 2011 figure of 97,800. The median age of regional Victorians will increase from 35.9 years in 2011 to 41 years in 2051.

Mayor Joshua Morris said as the population aged and grew, Ballarat would need substantial funds to keep up.

“We’re constantly in conversation with the BHS board . . . conversation about what are your priorities for health in Ballarat and how can we advocate for those,” he said.

BHS chief executive Andrew Rowe said it was important BHS made its priorities clear and gave the government and opposition time and opportunity to consider the projects.

“The priorities for BHS are about providing the best facilities we can for the community,” Mr Rowe said.

In the area of acute care, top of the BHS wish list is $20 million to redevelop and expand the hospital’s operating theatre suite by extending it into the first floor of the new Drummond Street building next door.

Mr Rowe said the project would allow BHS to substantially expand its operating theatres.

“In recent years we have massively expanded the workload of the hospital, so we need to ensure we have the theatre capacity to cope with the increased demand,” he said. 

Mental health facilities, housed in a hospital-owned building adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Centre, were “totally inadequate” to accommodate the 60 clinicians on the team, with $4 million needed to redevelop the site.

BHS also called for $8 million to redevelop its extended care unit for long-term patients, which Mr Rowe described as “dysfunctional”.

Seeking $66 million for aged care, Mr Rowe said BHS hoped to invest in several of its current aged-care sites and dispose of others.

“We’ve got a plan around which ones are the most appropriate to redevelop and which ones are not as optimal to redevelop,” Mr Rowe said.

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