Minister for Health Brad Hazzard will attend a meeting in Newcastle next month to discuss a wholescale redevelopment of the John Hunter Hospital campus.
The Newcastle Herald understands the September 3 meeting will include Hunter New England Health chief executive Michael DiRienzo, parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald, University of Newcastle and TAFE representatives and the Hunter Medical Research Institute.
“This is about the vision for John Hunter Hospital. It is about building the concept for where the hospital needs to be in the decades ahead,” Mr MacDonald told the Newcastle Herald.
“It is an extremely important referral hospital, not just for the Hunter but for the wider north, north-west region out of Sydney, so we need appropriate infrastructure, we need the appropriate resources, we need the appropriate investment.”
The September get-together is regarded as a prelude to developing a business case and more detailed plans to take to Treasury, Cabinet and the Department of Planning.
“This is a very important meeting, extremely important meeting, and I really appreciate the support of the minister, Brad Hazzard, for giving us the leadership on this,” Mr MacDonald said.
The state government is spending $548 million redeveloping Gosford and Wyong hospitals and $450 million at Maitland as part of an $8 billion hospital investment over the next four years.
In Sydney, Blacktown ($700 million), Northern Beaches ($900 million), Westmead ($900 million), Campbelltown ($760 million) and Liverpool ($740 million) are among hospitals receiving large cash injections.
A John Hunter rebuild could also cost many hundreds of millions.
The Herald understands Hunter New England Health has been working on a plan for a major rebuild and expansion of the 27-year-old hospital and is open to incorporating other activities on the campus, including a larger university presence and a hotel.
The campus already incorporates Newcastle Private Hospital, John Hunter Children’s Hospital and the HMRI.
The co-chair of the John Hunter Medical Staff Council, Dr Steve Oakley, said there was a “huge need for an expansion of the campus”.
A template for the Newcastle project could be the proposed Liverpool Health and Academic Precinct, a concept created by a committee of health authorities, universities, local government, TAFE and business groups in south-west Sydney.
A John Hunter redevelopment would address parking shortages and better vehicle access from Lookout Road.
The hospital employs more than 2500 people and has the busiest emergency department in the state. It is also the University of Newcastle’s principal teaching hospital.