Rundown Footscray Hospital should be refurbished or rebuilt within 15 years, according to a new infrastructure blueprint for Victoria.
The report by independent advisory body Infrastructure Victoria is a 30-year vision for the state that includes plans for road and transport upgrades as well as improvements to ageing facilities.
It recommends that the state government respond to the aged conditions of the Footscray, Royal Melbourne and Alfred hospitals by completing a major refurbishment or new facility construction of one or more of the hospitals within 10 to 15 years.
“This will be required to efficiently support the delivery of specialist and complex statewide health services and meet the needs of rapidly growing inner-city populations,” the report stated.
The recommendation has been welcomed by Western Health, which has been pushing for demolition and redevelopment of the hospital’s south block and ageing emergency department.
A briefing document prepared for the state government in 2014 warned that more than $300 million needed to be spent at the hospital to keep up with growing demand.
Western Health chief executive Alex Cockram said the organisation would like work to start as soon as possible.
“The facilities in a large part of Footscray Hospital are among the oldest in the metropolitan area without a major upgrade and this presents considerable challenges,” Associate Professor Cockram said.
Western Metropolitan Green MP Colleen Hartland, who has been lobbying for the hospital to be redeveloped, said Infrastructure Victoria had confirmed that fixing Footscray Hospital should be a priority.
“The draft plan suggested three hospitals should be redeveloped within 10 to 15 years,” she said. “Given 73 beds in three wards at Footscray Hospital are already permanently closed due to disrepair, it is clearly in dire need and must be the first.
“Footscray Hospital provides vital hospital services to the growing inner-west community. The government should be ashamed of the neglect and commit to fund the redevelopment now.”
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the government allocated $17 million in this year’s budget for urgent works and planning for the future of the hospital.
“The planning work will ensure we have the right health services and infrastructure in place in Melbourne’s west so we can best meet the demands of our rapidly growing community,” she said.
The government will respond to Infrastructure Victoria’s recommendations once it receives the body’s final report later this year.