WA Labor pledges $54 million for Newman Hospital
WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan has promised an expansion to services and facilities at Newman Hospital, if elected, to manage the town’s rapidly increasing population.
Upgrades would include doubling the number of beds, building new houses for doctors and health workers and boosting maternity and mental health services.
“WA Labor supports a strong public health system in which all WA families have access to quality health services, no matter where they live,” Mr McGowan said in a statement.
“Newman residents have been asking for an upgrade to their local hospital for a long time.
“WA Labor has listened to the Newman community and understands these upgrades are essential if Newman Hospital is to keep pace with the health needs of a growing mining centre.
“WA Labor will expand Newman Hospital from a 12-bed hospital to a 25-bed hospital,” he said.
Improvement to Newman Hospital’s maternity facilities will mean expectant mothers could give birth in Newman, rather than travelling to Port Hedland or Perth, which can be a traumatic and costly option.
Flights to Perth can cost around $1,400 return for one person at short notice.
Newman Hospital was developed in 1973 and Mr McGowan has said it is overdue for an upgrade.
“With the population of the Pilbara set to expand to 96,434 by 2020 we need to ensure that the resident, construction and FIFO population of Newman and the East Pilbara are well catered for both now and in the future,” he said.
“As it stands the growing FIFO population has stretched the hospital’s services to capacity.”
BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback Mine is the largest open cut mine in the world and located just minutes away from Newman Hospital.
Mining giants Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and BHP all have operational mine sites surrounding the town of Newman. The town’s FIFO population has now grown to around 4000 workers.
President for the Shire of East Pilbara, Lyn Craigie says she welcomes Mr McGowan’s comments, but has reservations.
“I say bring it on, but I think the state government should stand up and give us their commitment as well,” she said.
“I am aware that Pilbara Cities and WA Country Health Services are working on an upgrade plan due to be released at the end of this month and we welcome that.
“My only reservation is that $54 million will probably not do the job.
“If we’re talking about bringing back maternity services which Mr McGowan was saying, we would need birthing suites, surgeries and anaesthetists.
“We don’t have any maternity services at all so I don’t think the $54 million would cover that, given that we need housing for these specialists and theres a chronic accommodation shortage.
“But at least Mr McGowan is talking about it, where are the state government? What are they saying?” she said.
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