Hunt for cash: Mandurah’s hospital woes put to bed by $25m federal funding lifeline

Mandurah’s hospital woes were put to bed on Wednesday when federal health minister Greg Hunt joined Canning MP Andrew Hastie and Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup to announce $25 million for the Peel Health Campus (PHC). 

Thrust in the spotlight after the Mandurah Mail launched a campaign advocating to improve the facility in early 2018, PHC has finally reaped the benefits through the recent funding injection by the federal Coalition government. 

Of the cash splash, $21 million will go towards the expansion of the emergency department, the construction of a new community mental health facility and a refurbishment of the medical imaging department. 

The extra $4 million has been allocated for a residential eating disorder treatment centre.

Fronting the media in Mandurah on Wednesday, Mr Hunt said Mr Hastie had led a strong campaign calling for better services at PHC. 

Mr Hunt said the money was “cash in hand” and Mr Hastie had made it clear in his pitch that the funding was not reliant on an election. 

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“One of the things Andrew Hastie was most consistent on was that it is a decision, it is a commitment and therefore, it is fully funded. It is not dependent on election outcomes,” Mr Hunt said. 

“Today is the end of a long process. The community has made the case for an expanded ED facility. Coupled with an expansion and a move for medical imaging - that’s related to the community’s mental health and this is a project that brings all of these three things together.  

“There are amazing staff supporting patients but there is a real need going forward.”

The funding comes from the Community Health and Hospitals Fund.

Today is a victory for the people of Mandurah. This is the most-significant investment into the Peel Health Campus since it was opened in 1997.

Canning MP Andrew Hastie

“We can only make investments like this through our new Community Health and Hospitals Fund because we’ve got a plan for a stronger economy and we’re bringing the Budget back to balance,” Mr Hunt said. 

“This is about saving lives and protecting lives - and it wouldn’t have happened without Andrew Hastie.”

Mr Hastie said the announcement was a vindication of the local community’s efforts.

“Today is a victory for the people of Mandurah. This is the most-significant investment into the Peel Health Campus since it was opened in 1997,” Mr Hastie said.

“Federal health minister Greg Hunt listened to what our community was saying, and worked with me to find a solution.”

The funding announcement comes months after the state’s health minister Roger Cook revealed the state government would put $5 million towards an ED.

At the time, Mr Kirkup and Mr Hastie labelled the commitment as a “good start” but more investment in the hospital was needed.

Mr Hunt said the federal government was forced to pick up their state counterpart’s slack. 

“He, Zak and others made the case that we need to act and step in – we’ve done that,” he said. 

Mr Hunt called on the state government to release the results from the ongoing Sustainable Health Review.

“We would like to see them release the review and to contribute their fair share but, you know what, we’re getting on with the job,” Mr Hunt said. 

It is a decision, it is a commitment and therefore, it is fully funded. It is not dependent on election outcomes

Federal health minister Greg Hunt

The Sustainable Health Review’s final report was due in November but has been delayed. 

A preliminary report in June 2018, detailed the fact that the facility had the second-worst emergency department wait times in Western Australia, with almost a third of patients not being seen within four hours.

Mandurah MP David Templeman welcomed the announcement.

“I understand the money will go towards expanding and re-configuring important elements of the hospital together with the state government’s commitments,” he said. 

“Badly needed upgrades to the campus can now be progressed. This is a great outcome for the people of Mandurah and the region.” 

PHC chief executive Margaret Sturdy said the money would be put to good use.

“Obviously we've got to go through a massive planning process now to make sure the money that has been pledged today is spent in a way that will enhance the services and patient experience in the hospital,” she said. 

During his visit, Mr Hunt also announced easier access to lifesaving scans for cancer, stroke, heart and other medical conditions with a new MRI licence for SKG Radiology.

To read some of the community’s response to the announcement view our additional article: ‘It’s a good start’: Community impressed with Peel Health Campus announcement.  

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Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul