In the first step on the journey to revitalise the Footscray Hospital, the current Emergency department will be re-located and transformed to meet the needs of a growing inner West today and into the future. More than doubling in size, the new department will have access to a dedicated medical imaging suite and be co-located with an admission and assessment unit to provide a seamless patient journey from Emergency to Inpatient Care. Expediting access to both emergency and specialist staff, the new Emergency Department will deliver a vast improvement in the patient experience.
Part of the original hospital from 1953, the “South Block” has served Western Health well, but, 60 years on, it has come to the end of its useful life. Outdated, beyond re-use or renovation, the current buildings will need to be demolished and replaced to meet the complex and changing needs of the communities of the inner West. The expansion and replacement of the inpatient beds, alongside ambulatory services, will secure the future of an acute hospital in Footscray with the full set of services including Intensive Care, Theatres and Emergency Department, providing these departments with adequate support and feeder services.
The development of the Women’s and Children’s Centre will add capacity to meet future demand and vastly improve patient care for the communities of the West. Consolidating and expanding services will not only benefit those accessing Women’s and Children’s services but, will also release much needed capacity in the main hospital, including theatres andwards, to be used to support other services, including cancer care and older people’s services. Across five floors, this state of the art development will bring much needed connectivity between services, supporting the provision of safe, family centred care for all.
Judicious, appropriate expenditure now will prevent wasting money later. Escalating costs will present a significant risk, if this project’s commencement is delayed. The cost of meeting the needs of the West would only grow as inflationary pressures are compounded with interim solutions, and this is on top of the money that will need to be spent one day anyway. The cost of a five year delay in commencing this program of work is estimated at more than $100 million. There will also be an impact on the people of the West if these developments do not occur. Fewer patients will be able to be treated, families in the West will have to travel further to access care, many patients will have to receive their healthcare in buildings which are not ideal, and care could suffer as a result.
Extensive modelling has been completed based on Victorian Department of Health projections, to demonstrate the difference between available capacity and forecast demand. If the works are not completed, then in every year between now and 2025 there will be a critical gap between what is needed and what is available. One illustration of this is that by 2026, there would be a shortfall of 543 beds.
The West has changed demographically since the Western Hospital was established as the Footscray and District Hospital in 1953, and the Sunshine Hospital opened in 1990 primarily as a paediatric, obstetric, gynecology and sub-acute service. By delivering this project, all sections of the community will receive the healthcare they need, when and where they need it. Working together, these two sites can share facilities and personnel, driven only by careful considerations of patient need. The effect of better healthcare on the overall productivity and well-being of the West’s diverse, ever-changing and complex population cannot be under-estimated.
This is the very opposite of a ‘sticking plaster’ response to the West’s healthcare needs. As a measured and considered response to the growth in the West, it is both robust and visionary, encapsulating the best in health and logistical planning. And it can be relied upon to provide benefits to the West far beyond the current timeframes: the buildings and technology installed will be easier to maintain, more adaptable, and more sustainable than the infrastructure being replaced. Future generations will look back on this upgrade as a key moment in the development of the West as a viable and growing part of Victoria.