THE money has been secured for a redevelopment of the Bathurst Hospital, but Western NSW Local Health District CEO Mark Spittal says there is plenty of work to be done before any construction begins.
Mr Spittal spoke at Wednesday morning's announcement that $200 million for the Bathurst Hospital upgrade will be part of the NSW Government's 2022-23 budget.
In saying the timeline for the redevelopment was "really tight", Mr Spittal said he was anticipating a masterplan to be finished by February next year and all of the redevelopment "fully operational as a hospital" by early 2027.
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And what will $200 million buy?
"An awful lot," he said.
He said it would pay, in part, for a significant increase in inpatient beds, a possible almost doubling in size of the emergency department and upgrades to some of the surgical areas and theatre suites.
In terms of the practicalities of the construction, Mr Spittal said the health district will aim to "unlock some parts of the current hospital".
"Probably the most sensible way to do that is to, on the same campus [the overall hospital land parcel] here, to rebuild a mental health facility that's both covering the inpatient services and Panorama Clinic, plus the community and outpatient services that mental health deliver and that enables us to then progressively unlock some of the inside of the hospital," he said.
As new buildings go up, Mr Spittal said the health district is "intending to revamp some of the internal [existing] ward structures to improve some of the flow for patients and people, families, nurses and doctors".
In terms of whether the redevelopment would be able to be accommodated on Bathurst Hospital's current overall land parcel, he said some of those details still need to be worked through.
"We believe the vast majority of it can be on this footprint, if not all of it," he said.
"There will be a question that we will raise with both the community and staff around some of the outpatient services - about whether some of those are better located in the centre of town, from a consumer access point of view.
"But, long and short, we believe that this parcel of land that we've currently got is large enough to achieve what we need to achieve."
He said the health district was not anticipating any demolition of the heritage hospital or new hospital.
"There will be some new wings that will be built, but the campus allows for that," he said.
"There is some staffing quarters down in the very far corner of the campus that we do anticipate will get demolished and will make way for some new parts of the facility."
Asked about the disruption that would be caused by the redevelopment, Mr Spittal said the health district had plenty of experience in that regard.
"Our health infrastructure teams are very accustomed to managing projects like that [a hospital redevelopment]," he said. "We've just done that over almost a decade at Dubbo.
"So, yes, there will be some disruption, but it will be managed disruption and it will be minimised as much as possible."
He said the redevelopment would be built with future expansion in mind and would also address "issues like parking".
He was also questioned about Bathurst residents having to travel outside the city for medical services.
"As a local health district, we've got a long-term strategic goal of providing world-class rural healthcare as close to home as we possibly can," he said.
"There are some services that, in a community the size of Bathurst, will never be here. They wouldn't be safe to be here; there's not enough work of the type that's required for clinicians to keep their skills up to the [necessary] level.
"But we certainly want to minimise, to the possible extent that we can, in a town the size of Bathurst, people moving away [for health services]."
An example was radiation oncology services, he said.
"We've got really great services in Orange and now also in Dubbo, which are relatively close," he said. "They are very specialised, very expensive services, so those kind of things we are not anticipating, certainly not in the next decade, being in a town like Bathurst.
"But straightforward specialist services, the kinds of services that most people need at some point in time, we're aiming to have delivered in Bathurst."