November 29, 2012
The need for a dedicated regional hospital fund has been put on the agenda in Federal Parliament by The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.
Speaking in Parliament last night, Mr Chester said there were a number of hospitals located throughout regional Australia searching for avenues of funding to support critical developments and associated capital works.
He said one example was Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) which missed out on funding for a $65 million redevelopment through the now-closed Regional Priority Round of the Health and Hospital’s Fund (HHF).
Mr Chester was advised earlier this year by Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Catherine King that applications totalling more than $3.4 billion were received for the programs, exceeding the $475 million that was available.
“I am very keen to see the Latrobe Regional Hospital project proceed in the future because I believe it will provide improved care for residents in the Latrobe Valley and the broader Gippsland region,” Mr Chester told Parliament.
“It is a critical project for the future of my region, with far-reaching health, social and economic benefits.
“I have heard that the State and Federal Governments have both recognised that the need is there and the project is regarded as essential for the community but there is not a readily available source of funding or future rounds at this stage.
“I have also been advised by correspondence from the Department that LRH was eligible but due to the strong demand…not all projects would proceed.
“Unfortunately, that leaves the Latrobe Regional Hospital in a difficult situation.”
Mr Chester said both sides of politics will face challenges in developing their future policies for regional hospitals.
“The scale of the funding we are talking about is beyond the capacity of a community in terms of its own fundraising activities,” Mr Chester said.
“We will need a future round to allow regional hospitals to undertake much-needed upgrades in partnership with State Governments.
“I encourage the government to work in partnership with State Governments and the Coalition in securing funding for future upgrades of regional hospitals, both in Gippsland and throughout Australia.”