New Women’s and Children’s Hospital to be built next to RAH, linked with air bridge
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The new Women’s and Children’s Hospital will be built at the western end of the biomedical precinct, complete with an air bridge for direct access to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
The taskforce that examined the merits of multiple sites has recommended the land directly adjacent to the RAH as the preferred location.
Advice from Adelaide Airport has confirmed to the taskforce that the planned height of the building is in line with flight path guidelines, making the site a viable option.
The Advertiser understands the new advice means the hospital may end up being taller than previously expected — up to 11 storeys, with a further four underground.
Bed numbers will be finalised at the taskforce’s final meeting later this month, prior to presenting its final report to the State Government.
Official cost estimates are expected to be completed early next year. In July, The Advertiser revealed the cost had been put at $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion, based on documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws about the original estimate for the RAH, which blew out to $2.4 billion.
Other sites considered included the Newmarket Hotel.
Other options were a site by the Thebarton Police Barracks and one on the parklands between the train line and River Torrens.
Rebuilding on the current North Adelaide site was opposed by medical groups, which urged that it be co-located with the RAH so new mothers needing intensive care could be near their newborns.
The current WCH does not have an adult intensive care unit. It also does not have a helipad, which means critically ill children have to be first flown to the RAH then transferred by ambulance.
Chief executive of the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, Lindsey Gough, said the chosen site met all the criteria to ensure the needs of SA families were met for years to come.
“The site is an ideal position, co-locating the new WCH alongside the Royal Adelaide Hospital and within the world-class Adelaide BioMed City,” Ms Gough said.
“The new WCH taskforce has spent the past eight months extensively consulting with clinicians, consumers and key stakeholders to put forward the best possible option for this new hospital … but this is just the first step.
“The next two weeks are crucial as we finalise the report to achieve our goal of presenting it to government by the end of the year.”
The taskforce worked with consultants Carramar to establish the size of the new hospital, and is confident it can be accommodated on the site.
Taskforce chair Jim Birch, a former WCH chief executive, said the final meeting would be held later this month to put the finishing touches on the report, including bed numbers, while a cost estimate was expected to be completed early in the first half of 2019.
“I am looking forward to presenting our report to government and, if approved, working towards a more comprehensive plan by the end of next year,” Mr Birch said.
Health Minister Stephen Wade welcomed the taskforce’s recommendation.
“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to delivering a world class hospital for women and children that South Australians can be proud of,” he said.
“Labor planned to leave the children’s hospital stranded in North Adelaide. Establishing the WCH taskforce, made up of clinicians and their health professional and industrial organisations, was one of the first things the Marshall Liberal Government did after the election.
“Engaging health professionals is crucial to avoid a repeat of the poor planning processes that led to the budget blowout, the design and planning flaws and the ongoing operational challenges with the new RAH.”
Premier Steven Marshall committed to building a new WCH by 2024 as an election pledge.
“South Australia is the only mainland capital which doesn’t have a co-located women’s and children’s hospital with a major teaching hospital,” he said before the election.
Hospital’s five-year hunt for new home
■ October 2013
Labor Premier Jay Weatherill announces a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital costing in excess of $600 million will be built at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site and open in 2023.
■ June 2017
The Labor Government announces it will spend $528 million on a new Adelaide Women’s Hospital, connected to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. It says it will also spend $64.4 million to upgrade the existing Women’s and Children’s Hospital while it develops plans for a separate Children’s Hospital.
■ April 2018
New Liberal Premier Steven Marshall announces the establishment of a 15-person taskforce to examine options for the WCH to move near to the site of the new RAH and be completed by 2024.
■ July 2018
A confidential SA Health analysis reveals the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital adjacent to the Royal Adelaide Hospital will cost $1.8 billion, making it one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in state history.
Leaked SA Health plans reveal the parklands are being considered as the site for a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital to avoid huge costs associated with building it next to the Royal Adelaide.
The documents also show sites including the Thebarton police barracks and horse stables, the heritage-listed Newmarket Hotel at the North Tce/West Tce corner, and the parklands between the train line and the River Torrens are being considered as well.