Footscray’s crumbling hospital would be rebuilt opposite Victoria University’s Footscray Park campus under a $1.5 billion election pledge by the state government.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that a returned Labor government would fund a new 504-bed hospital that could accommodate an extra 20,000 emergency department admissions and 15,000 patients each year.
The new hospital would be built on the corner of Geelong and Ballarat Roads, a site chosen from a shortlist of three locations including the current hospital site on Eleanor Street.
Construction would begin with two years and the hospital would be open by 2025.
The current 290-bed Footscray Hospital would remain operational until the new hospital was open.
The election sweetener follows years of criticism over the state of the outdated hospital, built in the 1950s.
Australian Medical Association Victoria president Julian Rait last month warned that the 65-year-old hospital is at risk of catastrophic failure, plagued by leaks, cracks and failing equipment.
Premier Dan Andrews the new hospital would help meet demand in the rapidly growing west.
“No-one has ever questioned the quality of the care provided by the whole team right across Western Health, particularly here at Footscray Hospital,” he said.
“The challenge is to make sure that we have buildings to match the quality of care, attention, love and support that is provided here at Footscray Hospital.”
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the new Footscray Hospital will join a new women’s and children’s hospital in Sunshine in taking pressure off other hospitals, helping redirect up to 17,000 western suburb residents from the inner-city each year.
The hospital will continue to be a tertiary and training facility and Labor has promised it will include a major extension of the mental health care facilities available in the west.
Shadow health minister Mary Wooldridge said the Opposition recognises the hospital needs to be rebuilt, but Premier Daniel Andrews cannot be trusted to deliver the project.
“He promised a new hospital in four years in Melbourne’s southeast before the 2014 election, but the sod has not even been turned,” she said.
“This announcement is a stand-alone announcement for a hospital on the eastern fringe of the western suburbs and gives no detail as to how other health and hospital services in the western region will compliment and fit together.”
Ms Wooldridge did not commit to matching the funding if elected to government, arguing the state government should be focusing on providing healthcare in growth areas like Melton and Werribee.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Peter Dawkins said a new hospital would help create a world-class health and education precinct in an around Victoria University’s Footscray Park Campus.
The precinct would include VU’s College of Health and Biomedicine, College of Sport and Exercise Science, and Institute of Health and Sport.
“Our partnership with the new hospital will be of major significance for the further development of our already high standing in education and research in the areas of health, biomedicine, exercise and sport,” Professor Dawkins said.