Friday, June 21, 2024

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HomeIssue 3Hospital is approaching use-by date: Lambley

Hospital is approaching use-by date: Lambley

p2325-hospitalBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The hospital is running out of space and a new one needs to be built and be completed by 2030, says Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley, a former Minister of Health in the current NT Government.
It is likely to cost $300m, by then, and there should be private enterprise participation, which had been considered during the planning of the new $150m Palmerston hospital, on the drawing board for eight years.
A potential partner, whom Ms Lambley declined to name, had offered $50m, but she says Chief Minister Adam Giles “turned his back on that”.
She said this was hypocritical given that Mr Giles sold the 100 year lease of the Darwin Port to a Chinese buyer.
Queensland Nationals Leader Lawrence Springborg was among many to advise her to on how to go about the project: “We don’t build hospitals any more,” he told her.
Her preferred model would be DBOM – design, build, operate and maintain.
The Berrimah prison will cost close to $1b and questions could be raised if private enterprise could have done it cheaper, says Ms Lambley.
“We don’t have a lot of expertise in building hospitals in the NT. Palmerston’s is the first in 40 years.”
Ms Lambley says the Alice hospital will be “nudging close” to the 50 years which is considered the normal lifespan of a hospital. It was built in 1974 when the Territory was still governed by Canberra.
It would be a good idea to have lots of space at the new site, possibly near the new Kilgariff suburb, or on the southern side of Colonel Rose Drive, on airport land, says Ms Lambley.
This may seem to be “in the middle of nowhere now” but the town is likely to grow into that direction.
The public should be given ample opportunity to express its view on location and other details, she says.
PHOTOS: The aerial photo of the hospital is from Google Earth which is not recent enough to include the new emergency department, now taking up part of the car park centre right. Part of the ED is seen at the right in the photo at top.


  1. In a recent meeting with Alice Springs Hospital’s Chief Operations Officer regarding the potential establishment of a child-care centre on the hospital grounds for use by ASH staff, the notion of creating one on a to-be-constructed green site was canvassed.
    While the current ASH site is pretty much built-out so there is no longer an opportunity to create a centre at the current location, any proposed new hospital build should incorporate a designated child-care facility (out-sourced to a reputable agency for administration and operations) for use by staff working at the hospital.
    Such would provide an additional training facility for child-care professionals to learn (via CDU courses) and operate as well as providing a space for medical students (including paediatric registrars) to hone their skills.
    This opportunity would free up spaces in other child care facilities around town for use by non-hospital employees.
    I look forward to its incorporation into any future hospital construction.
    Phil Walcott
    Alice Springs

  2. It is nearly 35 years ago that the first suggestion of an on-site child care facility was proposed, and a committee set up to look into the possibility. As the hospital operates 24/7 it fell into the too hard basket, where it has obviously remained ever since.

  3. I have never heard any thing as ridiculous as building a new hospital. People here in Alice Springs do not realize how lucky they are to have this hospital.
    There is plenty of room there. If its to small, use the available ground and get rid of the swimming pool. Our doctors and nurses do a marvelous job.
    Where is the NT government going to get the money? This year the NT government already has a shortfall of $190m due to getting their proper share of GST and not using other states’ share of the GST funds.
    As for child care, let the parents look after their own, just like I have had to and my parent before me.
    childre, just like I and my parents had to do.

  4. Thanks, Fran.
    I am aware that the issue has been long-considered but not actioned yet. The idea would be to begin the operations at a day-shift level and as demand and capacity grew, incorporating afternoon shifts and night shifts over time.
    I look forward to the idea becoming a reality over time.

  5. It is unfortunate that planners have never appreciated the restrictions imposed on development here by the geography and the Gap.
    Those living south appreciate the density of traffic flows into and out of the Gap at peak periods and the scope of the employment south which causes this.
    Now add the very ill conceived Kilgariff development and the proposed industrial development behind the cemetery, and the problem will become acute.
    The likely Government action will be to widen the Gap or tunnel through, both having enormous implications for the town. The idea to build a new hospital south is a wise and far sighted move and should be the basis of a completely new commercial entity based around Brewer because this is where the employment will be in years to come and where Kilgariff should hvave been, had the planners and Government been on top of their game.
    There are already moves to claim native title north of the ranges which will add further pressure.
    Further, the consultants to Kilgariff made the very valid point that development follows the rail and the constraints at Smith Street make Brewer essential viewing, but largely unnoticed because industrial land is not as lucrative to the real estate industry.
    Promotion there at Brewer would also alleviate the quite unfair industrialization of the RL zoning as is happening. Adjacent to my house is a road making operation where bush has been illegally cleared to make way for graders, road trains etc, while just down the road is a scrap metal depot and a proposed dog kennel – all on RL zoned land.
    It could not happen in Stevens Road but is condoned by Government inaction. The Cameron Street option is the way to go at Brewer and a complete new commercial entity associated.

  6. @ Trevor Shiell: I am unclear from your comment whether or not you support the concept of a new hospital south of the Gap.
    The majority of those who would work at and visit the hospital and any other increased commercial / industrial development at Brewer would travel from north of the Gap and further add to the volume of traffic through it.
    I find it hard to imagine a proposal to widen or tunnel through the Gap getting up: re-routing the railway line, a whole other kettle of fish itself, is perhaps more likely?


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