Nick Lenaghan Property editor

Investment house Australian Unity expects to launch construction by early next year of a $100 million medical facility in Melbourne’s west, making it the first private hospital for Sunshine.

The first stage of the six-storey facility will include a 30-bed medical and surgical ward, along with high dependency beds, a dedicated private mental health inpatient unit, operating theatres and an endoscopy suite.

Chris Smith, head of healthcare and retirement funds at Australian Unity Real Estate Investment. 

Investors in Australian Unity’s $2.2 billion Healthcare Property Trust will fund the development, which will provide speciality medical services including orthopaedics, gynaecology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat surgery.

Chris Smith, the general manager of healthcare property at Australian Unity, said there was a strong case for a new private hospital in Melbourne’s west.

“There is absolutely no question that we currently have an undersupply of private hospital capacity in the area,” he said.

“We know that the older population in western Melbourne is forecast to grow by 153 per cent by 2036, compared with 96 per cent in the rest of the state.”

“We also know that more than a quarter of western Melbourne’s population have private health insurance, and its two existing private hospitals currently cater to 83,560 privately insured taxpayers per facility.”

The healthcare fund has run a series of capital raisings to fund its development pipeline, which has an ambitious slate of projects across the country such as the $390 million Surgical, Treatment And Rehabilitation Service (STARS) in Herston.

The Unitas Healthcare, a new private healthcare operator majority-owned by private equity firm Belay Capital, will lease the new Sunshine hospital on a 30-year term once construction is complete in 2023.

Expansion plans for the private hospital could include a 120-bed medical and surgical inpatient unit and a further four operating theatres to complement stage one.

The Australian Unity project is opposite Sunshine Hospital and will form part of a health, wellbeing and education precinct earmarked by the state government as a critical infrastructure project.