Victorian Government provides $15.2 million for Wangaratta Hospital upgrade

MOMENTOUS DAY: Northeast Health chairman Brendan Schutt and Premier Daniel Andrews tour Wangaratta hospital on Friday as part of funding announcement. Picture: MARK BONGERS
MOMENTOUS DAY: Northeast Health chairman Brendan Schutt and Premier Daniel Andrews tour Wangaratta hospital on Friday as part of funding announcement. Picture: MARK BONGERS

WANGARATTA hospital has been granted the funding for a long overdue upgrade on the one-year anniversary of the issue being catapulted into the national spotlight.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews joined Health Minister Jill Hennessy on Friday to confirm $15.2 million which will bankroll a new 12-bed critical care unit, emergency department expansion and relocation of the oncology unit.

The announcement comes a year to the day since former Indi MP Sophie Mirabella made the revelation Northeast Health Wangaratta missed out on $10 million in funding for the project because she lost the 2013 election to independent Cathy McGowan.

Health service chairman Brendan Schutt down-played any significance of the funding being announced on the anniversary of one of the pivotal moments in the Indi election campaign which resulted in Ms McGowan holding onto the seat.

"It's history," he said.

Mr Andrews, whose mum Jan is a volunteer at the hospital and where his late father Bob received cancer treatment, acknowledged there had been some controversy around the project.

"This is needed and perhaps overdue, but I don't make promises I can't keep," he said.

"There has been a bit of controversy about this, but today is a positive day.

"Mrs Mirabella is completely irrelevant to my plans for Wangaratta hospital and the values and work of my government.

"I'm here for another 12-month anniversary on Sunday, but Mrs Mirabella is completely irrelevant to my government's agenda."

Ms McGowan attended the funding announcement which will be included in the Andrews Government's upcoming budget out of the $200 million regional health infrastructure fund.

Mr Andrews said the Wangaratta hospital upgrade was one of the biggest projects in the regional health funding pool.

Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2020 with the health service employing 1200 staff.

Mr Andrews also announced $1.6 million would be included in the budget for a new home for Wangaratta's State Emergency Service unit.

The Premier visited Wangaratta soon after last year's floods and acknowledged they were operating out of sub-standard facilities.

"They did an outstanding job in keeping this city and local community safe," he said.

"They are an extraordinary group of people, but they are in buildings at the moment that are just not fit for purpose."

Wangaratta Council has had long-standing plans to develop an emergency services precinct on the former Ovens College site.