The Victorian Coalition Government has reached in principle agreement and exchanged letters with both the owners and operators of the Mildura Base Hospital to return the hospital to public ownership.
Health Minister David Davis was joined by Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Mildura MP Peter Crisp in making the announcement in Mildura today.
Health Minister David Davis said that, under the new arrangements, the state will regain control of the land and ownership of the hospital itself. Contractual arrangements with bondholders will continue until 2015.
The Coalition Government has reached agreement with Ramsay Health Care to continue as the operator under the current agreement until 2015 and, consistent with the original 1999 agreement, there will be a five year extension to 2020 with an option of a further two years by mutual agreement to ensure continuity of health services.
“The Coalition Government has committed $5 million, and the Commonwealth a further $2 million, to provide for the expansion of the emergency department, an upgrade to the maternity ward facilities, and an increase in space for mental health services,” Mr Davis said.
“The Coalition Government is pleased its additional $480,000 investment in cancer services is already being implemented, with construction work commencing this week.”
Planning and design for the larger capital works has been completed and a public tender process to engage a builder will be undertaken in coming weeks.
Capital works on site will not commence until formal legal documentation of the new site control and service delivery arrangements has been completed.
“It is the Coalition Government’s intention to complete the relevant legal steps and commence the promised expansion of the hospital in line with our election commitment as soon as possible,” Mr Davis said.
“The negotiations have been extremely complex because of the tortuous ownership structure left by the Labor Government in the early 2000s.
“The Coalition Government is proud to achieve what it set out to do from the beginning.
“The Government has negotiated in good faith with all parties and we take this opportunity to thank them for their cooperation in reaching an outcome which allows the continued delivery of high quality services for the people of Mildura and the Sunraysia district.
“Significant population growth and increased health service demand means there is a need for increased investment and physical capacity at Mildura Hospital.”
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Mr Davis today met with staff, the chief executive, senior management, and the Hospital Advisory Committee, including chair Vernon Knight, to inform them of these developments.
“I thank and praise local member Peter Crisp, who has fought so long and so hard to achieve the best possible health service for Mildura,” Mr Ryan said.
“He has been a fierce advocate for the people of his electorate.”
Mr Davis said the Government had assessed Ramsay Health Care, and found it to offer quality healthcare equal to or better than any sub-regional hospital.
“We note the recent achievement of Ramsay Health Care and their staff in Mildura in demonstrating the quality of their services and achieving hospital accreditation under the new Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation scheme,” Mr Davis said.