Op-ed: Why Melbourne’s West is best for new private hospital

Our job at Australian Unity is simple, we match Australia’s highest trained physicians with patients. Currently 19% of Melbourne’s 4.9 million residents live in Melbourne’s west with no access to a local private hospital. 

Australian Unity is changing this, and we are immensely proud to this year commence construction of the new Sunshine Private Hospital in western Melbourne. 

Every hospital is created with a commitment to improving the lives and health of its people. The Sunshine Private Hospital is excited to partner with the physicians, specialists and surgeons who will uphold their oath to look after our fathers, mothers, children and grandchildren. 

Those lucky to call the Sunshine Private Hospital consulting rooms home will begin a new era in our nation’s medical history and Australian Unity will continue its success in hospital ownership and management. 

Western Melbourne is one of Australia’s fastest growing regions and its population is forecast to increase by 60% in 2036-2037. 

More than one-quarter of Melbourne’s western suburbs residents have private health insurance and Australian Unity has seized the rare opportunity to build the sole private hospital within the Sunshine Health and Wellbeing Precinct. 

The Sunshine Private Hospital will be built directly opposite the Sunshine Public Hospital which currently looks after a catchment of more than one million people and employs more than 7,000 staff.

Earmarked by the Victorian Government as the Sunshine Health, Wellbeing and Education Precinct the area also includes the new Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital and a $51 million dollar health teaching and training campus. 

This will be a story of quality and leadership. Where the public and the private health sector combine to attract Australia’s best medical specialists and offer western Melbourne a superior 24/7 medical hub. 

Set for completion in September 2022 Sunshine Private Hospital will provide vital health infrastructure and serve the demands of western Melbourne’s booming population. The project has already attracted industry leaders such as Monash IVF and Capital Radiology and the infrastructure is an outstanding offer to medical tenants. 

Sunshine Private Hospital’s modern design and business model will enable it to take advantage of short-stay and day procedure specialist groups such as orthopaedics, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat surgery. 

The first stage of development will include a 30-bed medical and surgical ward, endoscopy suite, high dependency beds and a mental health inpatient unit. Expansion plans include a 120-bed medical and surgical inpatient wing and further four operating theatres. 

According to Hardes data the Sunshine Private hospital will conduct 10,000-day procedures and 3,500 overnight procedures in key surgical practice areas. 

With western Melbourne’s aging population forecast to grow by 153 per cent by 2036 and the hospital serviced by transport links the viability of the project is future proof. 

Not only will we serve Melbourne, but the proposed Metro Tunnel and the Sunshine transport super-hub will bring patients on public transport to Sunshine Private Hospital from regional centres such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. 

There is no other catchment area in Australia with such a strong case study for a new state of the art private hospital. 

Australian Unity is proud to be making history in Melbourne’s west and we look forward to working with our investment partners on this ground-breaking project. 

Unitas and Australian Unity to complete hospital in Melbourne’s West

The first stage of the $140 million, six-storey Sunshine Private Hospital will include a 30 bed medical and surgical ward with four high dependency beds, a 21 bed dedicated private mental health inpatient unit, four operating theatres and an endoscopy suite.

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

Located on Furlong Road, opposite Sunshine Hospital, the new facility will form part of the Sunshine Health, Wellbeing and Education Precinct. Ear-marked by the Victorian State Government as a critical infrastructure project, the precinct will provide much needed services and support for the fast-growing population in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Investors in Australian Unity’s $2.4 billion Healthcare Property Trust are funding the development which is set to provide in-demand services to a broad range of specialties including orthopaedics, ophthalmology, fertility, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat surgery. Medical Imaging services will be provided on site by Capital Radiology.

The development will also include a broad range of consulting suite options to support the new private hospital and will be further supported by onsite pathology collection.

Chris Smith, General Manager of Healthcare Property at Australian Unity, said there is no other catchment area in Australia with as strong of a case for a new state-of-the-art private hospital, as Melbourne’s west.

“There is absolutely no question that we currently have an undersupply of private hospital capacity in the area”, Mr Smith 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.1 “This is astonishingly high when we compare this to Western Sydney which has a similar demographic profile, but 15 private hospitals serving 24,616 privately insured taxpayers per private hospital”, he said. “The development will deliver much-needed social infrastructure to the west of Melbourne and will reduce patient travel time and provide the community with greater convenience. “It’s clear Sunshine’s new private hospital will play an essential role in job creation as we put in place measures to stimulate the Victorian economy and transition out of COVID lock-downs.

“As the public health system grapples with long waiting lists and increased demand, it is important that Melbourne’s West has public and private health systems working together to provide the community with optimal care,” Mr Smith said. Unitas Healthcare, a new private healthcare operator majority-owned by private equity firm Belay Capital, will lease the hospital on a 30-year term once construction is complete in 2023.

Linda Edgerton, CEO of Unitas Healthcare, said the company felt privileged to be contributing to the improvement of healthcare outcomes for Melbourne’s west. “Unitas is very pleased to be partnering with Australian Unity to complete this modern hospital in Melbourne’s West, delivering quality healthcare to a growing community”, she said.
1 The Australian