THE redevelopment of Tamworth hospital has been several years in the coming, but now the centrepiece of the $220 million project – the new acute services building – is officially under way.
Yesterday local MPs Tony Windsor and Kevin Anderson, hospital general manager Brad Hansen, and patron Alec Noble were joined by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and federal parliamentary secretary for health Shayne Neumann to turn the first sod of soil at the site and mark the beginning of construction.
Mr Hansen described it as a “pretty historic day for Tamworth” and one that would eventually see the emergence of a world-class health facility.
The five-storey building will include a new emergency department, operating theatres, intensive care and high-dependency unit, maternity unit and special care nursery, children’s ward, coronary care unit and medical, surgical and palliative care units, among other services.
Construction is expected to be finished mid-2015 and the entire redevelopment – including refurbishment of the Bruderlin building – will be completed in 2016.
Funding for the redevelopment was secured in May 2011, with the state government putting in
$100 million and the federal government a further $120 million.
“Today marks a significant step forward in providing the very best facilities in regional NSW, and accessing the services we deserve and expect,” Mr Anderson said yesterday.
He said the redevelopment would not only improve facilities for current staff, but help attract more health professionals to the region.
Mr Anderson acknowledged the contribution of all those who had helped bring the project to realisation, but particularly Mrs Skinner and former federal health minister Nicola Roxon for reaching a funding agreement.
The work of former Tamworth MP Peter Draper and the health staff was also recognised by Mr Windsor, who said their efforts meant the project was ready to seize funding once it was available.
“This is a very important structure ... not only important in the provision of public health, but in the provision of teaching facilities,” Mr Windsor said.
Mrs Skinner told The Leader the redevelopment was “a truly joint project”.
“Of all the hospitals we’re rebuilding across the state, this is the one closest to my heart,” she said.
Mr Neumann paid tribute to the advocacy of the community in its push for the redevelopment, which he said would make a difference to health outcomes in the region.
Hunter New England Health director of acute networks Todd McEwan said the redevelopment was more than bricks and mortar – it would also offer redesigned services and a new way of providing care to improve the patient’s journey.
Works on the site already undertaken include the demolition of the renal, clinics and stores buildings, the relocation of two large palm trees, and the removal of 63,800 tonnes of soil, in preparation for construction.