The State Government has committed more funding for its over-budget Geraldton hospital redevelopment project, but could not say when works would start on the next stage of construction or how long the process could be delayed by. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson was in Geraldton on Wednesday to announce $49.4 million in additional funding would be allocated to the project in the2022-23 State budget. This will bring the estimated cost of the long-awaited project to $122.7m, almost double the initial $73.3m budgeted for the works. Ms Sanderson attributed the price increase to rising construction costs and building industry pressures, with tenders received for State 2 of the project well above initial estimates. “We have a construction market that is particularly overheated at the moment, costs are high and labour is short,” she said. “This region in particular is really feeling that pinch — not only have we got that double whammy of COVID, you have also got the rebuild required after cyclone Seroja. “It is a demonstration of our commitment to this project that we are prepared to put the money on the table and make sure this project can go ahead.” Ms Sanderson said a tender for the works has yet to be awarded and told reporters she could not say when the upgrades will be complete. “That will be determined by the successful contractor and we will work with them to make sure we can deliver this as soon as possible,” she said. Tenders for Stage 2 closed in September, with Ms Sanderson saying it had “taken some time” to assess the applications. “It has taken some time to work through availability of building companies to be able to deliver a project of this scale and in a timely manner,” she said. “There has been a lot of work going on with the WA Country Health Service, with treasury and with the Department of Finance to work through those issues. Works were first expected to be finished by 2022, but it was later pushed back to 2023. In June last year it was revealed just the emergency department and mental health unit would be operational by 2023, with upgrades to intensive care and an expanded high-dependency unit delayed until 2024. Ms Sanderson said she expected works to start this year and be completed “as quickly as possible”. “Every single construction project whether it is a government project or private sector has faced delays,” she said. Shadow Minister for Regional Health Martin Aldridge welcomed the funding boost, but said the decision should have been made sooner. “The State Government, who is awash with cash and expected to post another massive surplus, should have made this decision well before now,” he said. “More could have and should have been done in the five years since the McGowan Government came to power, with patients in the Mid West apparently the big losers as the hospital comes under increasing pressure. “The Geraldton Regional Hospital project, now seriously over budget, is still set to take years to complete with no firm timeframe advanced by Government.” Member for Geraldton Lara Dalton said she looked forward to seeing tools on the ground for the start of Stage 2 of the project. The redevelopment project includes an expanded emergency department, a new intensive care unit co-located with an expanded high dependency unit and engineering service upgrades. An integrated mental health service, inclusive of an adult mental health inpatient unit and a mental health short-stay unit, will also be developed as part of the project.