FRANKSTON will have Australia’s first “Health Futures Hub” with the federal government announcing that next week’s Budget will provide $32 million towards a $55 million project dedicated to researching better health care services for aged care, mental health and addiction.
The government contribution was announced on Sunday 24 March at Frankston Hospital by federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chris Crewther, the federal MP for Frankston-based Dunkley electorate. Peninsula Health and Monash University will contribute the additional $23 million to the project. Mr Hunt announced the government would also contribute $10 million towards a children’s (paediatric) emergency centre at Frankston Hospital.
The health minister said the hub would be a national centre, but “Mornington Peninsula and Frankston communities will see the direct benefit from research that is undertaken in their community, for their community”. Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula have a large population of people aged over 60 – almost 32 per cent compared to greater Melbourne’s average of 19 per cent. Mr Hunt said the funding would “help deliver new research and treatment programs for our elderly and those with addiction and mental health issues, backed by new, state-of-the-art physical and data infrastructure at Frankston Hospital and the neighbouring Monash Peninsula campus”. Mr Hunt, also the federal MP for Flinders, which covers most of the Mornington Peninsula, said the health hub and paediatric centre would “support our doctors, nurses and brightest researchers to treat patients and help find new breakthrough cures”. “This local investment is the culmination of almost two years of work and development between myself, Chris Crewther, and members of Peninsula Health and Monash University. We’re not just investing in the future of Australian medicine, but in improved medical services for local families when they need it most.”
Mr Crewther said the funding for Frankston Hospital would greatly improve health outcomes for local families. “In the past five years, emergency department presentations at the hospital increased by more than 20 per cent. Providing a dedicated emergency department for children will enable the emotional needs of sick and injured children to be met, and ensure they are protected from stressful situations that occur in emergency departments.”
A government statement said the funding was “part of the Liberal National government’s $496 million investment to make … Victoria a global leading centre for health, medical research and innovative cancer treatments”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment would be “life-changing for so many of our sickest Australians, including many children battling cancer”. “Today’s Health and Medical Research Plan cements Melbourne’s place as a global leader in health and medical research, creating jobs while importantly providing support for Australians patients,” he said.
Mr Hunt said the funding was “in addition to the $24.6 million partnership between Monash University, Peninsula Health and the Alfred Hospital so that Australians with cancer and rare diseases have access to clinical trials no matter where they live, including near Rosebud Hospital on the Mornington Peninsula”.
Committee for Greater Frankston chair Fred Harrison welcomed the health hub and paediatric emergency centre announcement. “The hub will be a key part of Frankston’s vibrant healthcare, medical research and education precinct, where the next generation of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals can be trained,” he said. Mr Harrison thanked Mr Hunt and Mr Crewther for delivering the funding for the projects “and the professional jobs they will bring, which are so badly needed in our region”.
Committee chief executive Ginevra Hosking said the hub would see Frankston become a world-leading centre of excellence in the management of ageing and chronic disease. “Australia needs to develop the capacity to quickly implement the latest treatment innovations for chronic conditions, which cannot always be provided by traditional hospital systems. Improving health outcomes for people with complex and challenging conditions can best be done by testing new evidence-based models of care.” Ms Hosking said health and education precincts generate job growth 2.5 times the national average.
In January, the federal Opposition’s health spokeswoman Catherine King and Labor’s candidate for the federal seat of Dunkley, Peta Murphy, pledged that a elected federal Labor government would contribute $21 million towards this Frankston Health Futures Hub project.
Late last year, before the Victorian state election, the Victorian Labor government said that if re-elected it would redevelop Frankston Hospital at a cost of $562 million. Part of this pledge was purportedly to reconfigure or expand Frankston Hospital’s emergency department to provide for a dedicated children’s emergency section as well as specialist staff.