NSW government to invest $3 billion on Western Sydney hospitals

ABC News, 10 September 2023

The New South Wales government has committed $3 billion towards building new, or improving existing hospitals in Western Sydney.

Premier Chris Minns said it was one of the fastest growing areas in Australia and deserved "world-class healthcare".

The commitment includes an additional $400 million for the new Rouse Hill Hospital, on top of $300 million committed by the previous Coalition government.

It will be the first adult public hospital to be built in Western Sydney in more than 40 years.

They have also honoured $1.3 billion allocated by the previous government to build the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital on a new site.

The premier said the former government "mucked around" and "refused" to commit funds to redevelop some hospitals which have not had major improvements since as far back as the 1980s.

Part of the $3 billion will also go towards:

  • $550 million to redevelop Fairfield Hospital
  • $350 million for Canterbury Hospital
  • $120 million for additional beds at Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospitals

The government said the investment would deliver on its election promise to add 600 hospital beds across the region.

"Our healthcare system has been under incredible pressure in recent years," Mr Minns said.

Salary packaging for workers

An allocation of $170 million towards salary packaging for healthcare workers was also announced today.

It would see a 70 per cent return in terms of salary sacrifice for 50,000 people, including cleaners, cooks, allied health workers and paramedics — meaning they will pay less tax on their income.

A cleaner earning about $55,000 would take home about $15 extra each week.

Secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU) Gerard Hayes congratulated the government for coming through with its promise.

"The delivery of people's personal tax savings has been 20 years in the making," Mr Hayes said.

"If the healthcare workers aren't doing well, their communities aren't doing well," he said.

Mr Minns said there was "nowhere near enough staff to fill hospitals" under the previous government.

He expects the commitment to attract and retain those healthcare workers currently working in the system.

"It's an unconscionable situation when so much of the recouped money is handed to the NSW Treasury and not into the hands of what are often low-paid workers who are necessary to healthcare in NSW," he said.

The government will also negotiate with the HSU to increase the return to 100 per cent to fall in line with other states.

'Re-announcements not announcements'

Opposition leader Mark Speakman said the former government had already committed funding to the Rouse Hill and Bankstown-Lidcombe hospitals.

"Some of the projects Labor has mentioned today are really re-announcements, not announcements," he said.

"What we are seeing today from the government is really an endorsement of the health priorities of the previous government," shadow treasurer Damien Tudehope said.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) welcomed the spending but said more needed to be done to attract and retain staff to fill the hospitals.

"We need nurses and midwives to receive a pay rise that really reflects what the community sees nurses and midwives doing," NSWNMA General Secretary Shaye Candish said.

"Unfortunately, we've seen many, many nurses and midwives leave the industry."

The commitments are part of a raft of announcements being made ahead of the state budget on September 19.