Parties back private hospital

Jon SolmundsonGeraldton Guardian

Geraldton’s major party candidates have assured the local business community that upgrades to the Geraldton Regional Hospital will not be a detriment to St John of God Hospital.

The major party representatives weighed in on the issue of hospital upgrades as part of the final panel answering questions from the floor at last week’s Mid West Economic Summit in Geraldton.

In her “Future of Geraldton” address, Labor candidate Lara Dalton reinforced the need for a mental health unit to remove pressure on the Geraldton Hospital’s emergency department, while Liberal Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney and Nationals candidate Paul Brown repeated their respective party promises for a $138.5 million and a $115 million redevelopment, if elected.

Panaceum medical centre chief executive Richard Sykes raised the concern of St John of God’s future to the panel of politicians, suggesting that only putting in “more bricks and mortar” without considering the impact could place the private hospital at risk.

Ms Dalton said more beds wouldn’t be put in at detriment to the private hospital, but St John of God had operated differently before earlier upgrades were carried out at Geraldton Hospital.

She also said her vision for the future included St John of God co-locating on to the Regional Hospital campus, a plan which Mr Blayney and Mr Brown agreed would happen within 10 years.

Mr Blayney said St John of God Hospital would remain in Geraldton, without a doubt.

“The existing arrangement has worked very well for both parties — being able to shift some things and some patients to St John’s, which gives them a little more business but also takes the pressure off of the government hospital,” he said. “I’m quite confident that St John’s will stay around and co-locate.”

Mr Brown said a joint campus would benefit the region.

“That creates an economy where by St John’s continues to thrive alongside the major public hospital in the area, and creates an attraction to Carnarvon, to Meekatharra, to Mount Magnet and all around the Mid West for people to come to Geraldton to seek health services,” he said.

“They’re not going to Perth, they’re not going to bypass Geraldton, which means not only does public health thrive but private health thrives as well.”

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