BUILDING works on the $200 million Bathurst Hospital redevelopment are expected to start in less than two years, according to the Western NSW Local Health District CEO Mark Spittal.
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Mr Spittal provided some background to the redevelopment when he spoke at the announcement in mid-June and he filled in some more of the detail when he spoke to 2BS this week.
He said the health district had been looking at the overall hospital land parcel for the past year or so in terms of how it could be redeveloped "in order to achieve all the things that we knew that we needed to achieve".
"We came up with seven or eight options. We haven't been public about them. We wanted to make sure that we had the money before we started raising some expectations," he told 2BS.
Now that the money is there, the next step, according to Mr Spittal, will be to talk to staff and the community about those options between now and February next year.
"It may be that we end up with a combination of some of the options we've come up with," he said.
"We've done enough work to know, with confidence, that $200 million will more than adequately give us the money for what we need to do in terms of the build.
"But the masterplanning, the community consultation, to just make sure with staff and the community that we've got it right, will occur between now and February."
By August next year, he said, the health district hopes to have a schematic design for the redevelopment which will be sufficient to go to tender for the construction work.
"And we expect the building works to start around about early 2024 and they'll go through, we anticipate, right up to the end of December 2026, which in real terms means, in early 2027, we anticipate being able to move into the newly redeveloped hospital," he said.
He said all of that timeline might change, but "the kind of work that we're talking about, from whoa to go, is about a four to four-and-a-half year project".
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Mr Spittal also addressed recent criticism of staffing levels at the Bathurst maternity unit.
He said there was a "real workforce shortage for both obstetricians and midwives across Australia, in fact across the western world, and Bathurst is no different".
"We're trying really hard to recruit," he said.
"We have a number of the midwives who are off on parental leave and, of course, we celebrate that with them as well.
"And we have got some obstetrician vacancies that we are trying to fill.
"And we will eventually do that. Unfortunately, it's taking longer than any of us would like. We are in the same boat as the rest of Australia in that regard.
"But eventually, all these problems will be behind us.
"I'm not minimising the problem; we are trying everywhere we can. We are recruiting internationally and we are about to have another go at that, both in New Zealand and in the UK, to try to recruit to bring some of those staff in.
"But, at the end of the day, the vast majority of women in Bathurst who are having babies are still very safely having their babies in Bathurst."
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