$450M estimate for new hospital

The Lower Hunter will receive a $450 millionnew hospital that couldbe completed within six years, according to information released in Tuesday’s state budget.

Budget papers estimated the cost of the new facility at $450 million, $5 millionof which was allocated in the 2017/18 budgetfor preparatory work.

A NSW Health spokesperson said it was expected construction would be completeby 2022.

The new information was welcomed byParliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

Mr MacDonald said the hospital was initially earmarked as a $400 million project.He said that his party would have faced criticism if that figure went down.

“I was quite pleased,” he said.“There’s not going to be any skimping.”

Mr MacDonald said while$5 million was not a lot of money, the larger amounts wouldcome as the project progressed.

“People will have to be a bit patient,” he said.

Australian Medical Association president Brad Frankumwas optimistic about the hospital followingthe budget announcement.

“There’s been a significant investment to redevelop Maitland Hospital,” he said. “It’s good to see a commitment to the new hospital being built.

Mr Frankum said Hunter New England Local Health District now needed to work towards a definitive plan for the project.

“The uncertainty around Maitland has gone on too long,” he said.

NSW Health said the government was still considering if the hospital wouldbe funded publicly or through a public-private partnership.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association called on the government to declare its intentions about the funding.

“It’s been six years since a new hospital was earmarked for Maitland,” acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.

“The local community deserves to know if they will continue to have access to a publicly run new hospital or not.”

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