Hospital misses out

LATROBE Regional Hospital’s $65 million funding bid remains shelved despite many Victorian regional hospitals securing multi-million dollar upgrade funds in the state budget.

LRH has applied to the Federal Government’s Health and Hospitals Fund in the past two years for capital works funds to expand operations but has missed out each time.

Following the recent federal budget announcement a number of local sources claimed LRH had cause to believe its application would be successful, however the news was met with resounding disappointment.

It is understood the LRH application had to be lodged with either the state or federal government, not both, and encouraging signs from the Federal Government led to a local decision to pursue federal support.

Last Friday the State Government announced a $364 million investment in hospital redevelopments from the 2012-2013 State Budget, claiming this would “pave the way for the creation of more than 700 jobs during the construction phase of these major projects, including more than 560 jobs in regional Victoria”.

Listed among the new projects to be funded was $93 million for Geelong Hospital, expected to create 211 jobs, $46 million for Ballarat Hospital, tipped to create 129 jobs, $23 million for the Charlton Hospital, $20 million for the Kilmore Hospital, $18 million for Swan Hill, $10 million for Castlemaine and $5 million for radiotherapy services at Warrnambool.

Last week LRH board chair Kellie O’Callaghan told The Express the LRH project would have taken two years to build, creating 180 construction jobs and 90 service delivery positions.

The Federal Government announced $475 million for new and upgraded health facilities in rural and regional communities but LRH did not figure in the funding.

State Member for Morwell Russell Northe agreed it was fair to assume the LRH bid might have had more success with the State Government, but said “hindsight is a wonderful thing”.

“With that (Federal Government) announcement last week, we were extremely disappointed to miss out, particularly when we were given hope it would be successful,” he said.

Mr Northe said he would meet with LRH representatives and board members in coming weeks to determine “where we go from here”, adding “of course we will be alerting the State Health Minister and Victorian Government about the necessity to have this happen”.

“We could be best placed to channel our efforts back there (with the State Government) given there doesn’t appear to be any major federal grants available at this time,” he said.

At the time of going to print LRH board chair Kellie O’Callaghan was unavailable for further comment.