HEALTH Minister David Davis has acknowledged construction of the new Bendigo hospital will not begin this year.
Construction work was supposed to begin in December, and the hospital’s own website still claims that.
However, speaking in Bendigo, Mr Davis said construction would not begin until next year.
“Demolition of the former ambulance building in Arnold Street has started and will be completed next month,” he said.
“It allows site clearance to occur in preparation for construction of the new hospital to start in early 2013.”
Mr Davis said construction of new ambulance stations in Epsom, Eaglehawk, Strathdale, Uley Street in Central Bendigo and a new regional office and workshop in North Bendigo were completed and operational.
“The huge overhaul to ambulance services in Bendigo is part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s massive $630 million Bendigo Hospital Project,” Mr Davis said at the official opening the Bendigo CBD branch.
“We are working to ensure all Victorians have access to the highest quality ambulance service delivering timely responses during emergencies including here in Bendigo.
“As part of enabling works for the New Bendigo Hospital project we delivered $15 million to build four new ambulance stations and a new regional office and workshop.”
Mr Davis said the new ambulance facilities, together with an existing station in Kangaroo Flat, will mean paramedics are better placed to respond to critical medical emergencies in and around Bendigo.
“Patients in life-threatening emergencies will benefit from reduced response times, with new branches to service growth areas,” he said.
Mr Davis entered the carbon tax debate in parliament this week, citing the impost of the tax on Bendigo hospital.
In June the Bendigo Weekly revealed Bendigo Health was expecting a $600,000 increase in its electricity bills because of the carbon price.
“I have ... well, a bill. Yes, an invoice – that’s what I call it – from Bendigo Health and I notice here that the July bill for Bendigo Health shows a $17,329 (carbon tax) impost. $17,000 ... for one health service for just one month of additional cost listed as carbon charge,” he said.