Funds delay forces longer hospital wait for Newman

Alicia PereraNorth West Telegraph
The majority of government funding for the Newman Health Service redevelopment is still pending.
Camera IconThe majority of government funding for the Newman Health Service redevelopment is still pending. Credit: Shire of East Pilbara

The majority of State Government funding for the planned $47.3 million redevelopment of Newman’s ageing hospital has been pushed back up to two years to 2019-21.

The Newman Health Service Redevelopment Project was set to receive $35.9 million from the State Government’s Royalties for Regions scheme in 2018-19, having received $1.4 million the previous financial year, but the Government’s mid-year financial review shows only $3 million will now be spent in that period.

According to the revised figures, $17 million will be spent in 2019-20 and another $16 million in 2020-21 to finish the hospital and bring the total Government contribution to about $37 million. That funding will complement a $10 million contribution from mining giant BHP.

Health Minister Roger Cook said the funding change would not affect the planned time frame for building the hospital.

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“Funding to build a new hospital in Newman has always been spread over financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21,” he said.

“The reallocation of some funding between these years is not anticipated to delay completion and better reflects when the money will be spent.”

However, Shire of East Pilbara president Lynne Craigie, who previously described the existing Newman Hospital as “no longer fit for purpose”, said it was a concerning sign for the already long-awaited project.

“I understand budget cuts and the need to tighten belts, but these are critical services that are needed, and though our population might not be high in residential terms, we have a high FIFO population,” she said. “I am concerned.

“I’m pleased to see they haven’t wiped it from the Budget altogether, but this is at least 10 years of waiting for a decent hospital and I’d just like to see it started.”

Cr Craigie said she would seek a meeting with the health minister early this year.

A local push to upgrade Newman Hospital began about 10 years ago.

Mr Cook said a proposed program of works — which would see the old hospital demolished and a replacement erected — had now been completed, and the WA Country Health Service had advised a new building could be achieved within the revised budget.

“This means a new building will replace the existing 1960s building and consolidate services currently delivered in three freestanding facilities into one building which will be purpose-built and designed to meet the future health needs of the community,” he said.

According to WACHS, construction will start in 2020, subject to the business case being considered in the 2019-20 Budget process.

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