A major Ballarat health project is in danger of stalling if it doesn't receive adequate funding.
Ballarat Innovation and Research Collaboration for Health faces an uphill battle getting federal funding to help it grow in to a major research hub.
Ballarat MP Catherine King wrote to federal health minister Greg Hunt last month calling on the government to invest in BIRCH after Labor promised to invest $10 million in to the project.
Ms King said she received a reply from Mr Hunt identifying no funding pathways for BIRCH.
"This is a very disappointing outcome for our community", Ms King said. "BIRCH would build on Ballarat's already strong reputation when it comes to health and health training.
"This project would turn Ballarat into a centre of learning, attracting researchers and research funding to our community, while also allowing Ballarat's medical students to carry out their research close to home."
A collaboration between Ballarat's two hospitals and six universities, BIRCH would develop Ballarat into a renowned and innovative health care research hub. Plans involve moving education, clinical training and simulation spaces to be moved into the single site, allowing interaction, research cooperation and a higher standard of learning.
A federal health department spokesman said researchers at BIRCH could apply for research grant funding through the government's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) if they met the funding grants eligibility criteria.
But NHMRC funding is only awarded through administering institutions including universities, hospitals and medical research institutes that meet specific requirements and BIRCH was not currently recognised as an administering institution.
"BIRCH would need to apply to be recognised as an Administering Institution before it can apply directly for NHMRC funding. Alternatively BIRCH could seek to partner with an existing NHMRC Administering Institution to become a NHMRC Participating Institution," the spokesperson said.
BIRCH is a collaboration of Ballarat's hospitals and universities including St John of God Hospital, Ballarat Base Hospital, Federation University, Deakin University, Melbourne University, Australian Catholic University, Notre Dame University and La Trobe University.
"The establishment of BIRCH is critical to the development of Ballarat as a recognised centre of academic excellence. Ballarat is already recognised as Victoria's leading regional centre for secondary education with great potential for the university sector to strengthen research collaboration through BIRCH," said Dr Mark Yates when he was appointed BIRCH executive director earlier this year.
"BIRCH will look at transforming health services with an interest in prevention and large community-based activities that impact directly on the community ... to hopefully transform the way we practice in hospitals to improve health for the community in general."
Research areas will include aged care, primary care and population health, health care systems and integration. Digital health, mental health and health resource stewardship are key themes that will inform thinking and solution generation across the research areas.
Ballarat Health Services chief executive Dale Fraser said the project would continue.
"BHS will continue to support BIRCH to bring together researchers across a range of disciplines to tackle issues in health. The fact this research is able to rapidly transform healthcare in our regional settings is important to BHS and to the communities we serve," he said.
The state government has provided $300,300 in initial funding to get the BIRCH project off the ground.
Ms King said research carried out at BIRCH would lead to better health outcomes for residents across the country.
"Ballarat is already a hub for medical care, innovation and research - the government should invest to make that even better," she said.
Ballarat Innovation and Research Collaboration in Health aims to have 300 researchers within 10 years, and more than 1000 working and living in the region within 20 years.
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