The Andrews Labor Government has secured $31.4 million to save and complete the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital redevelopment after it was plagued by delays and cost blowouts under the former Liberal Government.
Touring the hospital today, Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, said the former Liberal Government had bungled the project by failing to properly plan for significant asbestos removal, leaving behind a $30 million black hole.
Construction started in 2013, but works slowed to a crawl with the discovery of asbestos in numerous areas of the existing building, with costs blowing out to more than $200 million.
The Labor Government has been forced to step in and save the Eye and Ear Hospital by providing $21.4 million to ensure the full scope of the redevelopment can be delivered. The hospital will provide a further $10 million to fully cover the $30 million blowout.
By stepping in to fix the former Liberal Government’s mess, we are not only securing the future of the Eye and Ear Hospital, we are saving the jobs of the construction workers currently working on the development.
The redevelopment will see partial demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a new connecting building with five, fully integrated levels.
It will deliver seven operating rooms and 14 recovery spaces, 37 same-day beds/chairs, 24 overnight beds, a new 13-cubicle emergency department and 42 outpatients consulting rooms. The upper levels will provide space for teaching, training and research.
Hazardous asbestos removal at the hospital is being carefully managed to ensure there are no safety risks to workers, patients, visitors and hospital staff. The removal of asbestos is monitored daily by a specialist hygienist and WorkSafe is ensuring it occurs in line with industry best practice.
To ensure the project is completed safely, we have now revised the completion date to late 2018.
The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital is the state’s largest provider of ophthalmology and ear, nose and throat services, treating 250,000 patients a year and delivering more than half of Victoria’s public general eye surgery and all of the state’s public cochlear implants.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“The former Liberal Government completely botched the Eye and Ear Hospital redevelopment, leaving us to deal with delays and budget blowouts.”
“This is $30 million that could be used to treat more patients, deliver more hospital beds or reduce waiting times – instead we’ve been forced to use it fix up the mess the Liberals left behind.”
“By stepping in and filling the Liberals’ funding blackhole, we’re ensuring all Victorians will be able to access the specialist ear, nose and throat care and treatment they need and deserve, well into the future.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020