Armidale needs feds to cough up

WHEN federal funding becomes available for the long-awaited Armidale Hospital redevelopment, the project will be set to proceed after the state government yesterday committed the funds needed to upgrade the outdated plans.

NSW health minister Jillian Skinner was in Armidale yesterday to open the hospital’s new $8 million ambulatory care and chemotherapy building.

While at the hospital she also announced $400,000 in funding that will allow planning and consultation to begin to bring the now almost three-year old plans into line with the hospital’s current needs and priorities.

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has been appealing for the funding since being told by federal health minister Peter Dutton in February that there was no money available at present for the redevelopment to proceed.

Mr Marshall said at the time  it was vital the plans be updated so that when the federal government was in a position to approve the funding, the project was “shovel-ready”.

“(Updated plans) will ensure the project is ready to be submitted as soon as federal funding becomes available,” he said back in February.

He has since had several meetings with Mrs Skinner and parliamentary secretary for regional health Melinda Pavey about the state government making the necessary funding available, and said yesterday he was gratified by the announcement.

“I thank the minister for responding so positively to our needs with this funding – it’ll allow us to further progress this important health infrastructure upgrade,” Mr Marshall said.

Mrs Skinner also confirmed the NSW government’s commitment of $10 million towards the hospital redevelopment remained on the table, contingent on the federal government contributing the remaining $50 million for the project.

These figures may need to be revised in line with the new plans, Mr Marshall said yesterday.

He said the new plans should be completed by the end of the year, at which point he remained hopeful the federal government would have some funding available.

The new ambulatory care facility opened by the minister yesterday provides a range of services, including chemotherapy, outpatient clinics, specialist consulting rooms for surgeons, anaesthetists, renal physicians, obstetricians and gynaecologists and chronic disease services, including dietician services.

Mr Marshall said the building greatly enhanced Armidale Hospital’s capacity to treat cancer patients from Armidale and across the region.

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