14 December 2018
Ipswich City Council and West Moreton Health have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will eventually see hundreds of additional healthcare staff working in Ipswich Central.
West Moreton Health, which administers Ipswich Hospital, plans to start moving some current staff into council’s Hayden Centre at 37 South Street in 2019.
As council staff move into their new eight-level administration building, to be built on the corner of Nicholas Street and Union Place, Ipswich Central, by 2020, further hospital staff will begin to move on to the site, including other council buildings at 40 South Street, 50 South Street and 56 South Street.
In the longer term, West Moreton Health plans to progressively redevelop the site into contemporary hospital and health facilities that will form a vital part of the new Ipswich Health Precinct, which is hoped will help resuscitate the city centre.
Ipswich Central is the area which encompasses the CBD, top of town, the current council and health precincts, to Riverlink and Queens Park.
Interim Administrator Greg Chemello said council had reached agreement with West Moreton Health to sell it the current administration buildings and land.
“The staff who West Moreton Health expect to work on the expanded hospital site will be complemented by all the various allied health businesses that predictably establish around any hospital expansion which works across the youth, aged care, mental health, disability and specialist health sectors,” he said.
“Combined with collective health industry staff – it being Ipswich’s largest economic sector with one in seven jobs being in healthcare – this will really ensure that Ipswich Central has a strong city core of workers and visitors.
“Enabling the hospital to grow over time to deal with Ipswich’s rapidly expanding population is absolutely essential in my view to secure the long term future of Ipswich Central.
“Ipswich could ill afford losing the hospital to an outer location in 10 or 20 years’ time because it was land locked. We would lose a massive amount of workforce out of the CBD and we simply can’t let that happen.”
Mr Chemello said one of the positives of West Moreton Health expanding its footprint was that hospital and allied health visitors would also spend their money at cafes and shops in the redeveloped CBD area.
“There will be hundreds of workers coming to this precinct ultimately. They will be followed by other health services located in nearby buildings,” he said.
“There will be other employees working in the city who want lunch and cafes and bars, plus all the visitors to the hospital and other health businesses and services. They will want retail and consumables. This will invigorate the city.
“The multipliers of this are just enormous. It’s logical, healthcare is already our cornerstone industry sector, we already have the hospital, we know it’s going to grow, we know they need breathing space … it’s a ‘no brainer’.”
Mr Chemello said the proposed private sector redevelopment of the Metro Hotel in South Street to a 99-bed aged care facility would complement the new health precinct.
“I expect that other such facilities will be established in the next few years around the CBD,” he said.
“Retail businesses will only become confident to take up space in and around the mall once they see the administration building and library well under way, plus the addition of extra healthcare staff as part of the health precinct.”
West Moreton Health Board Chair Michael Willis said detailed plans for the sites, and timing of works, were subject to State Government approval and would be developed progressively over the next two to three years.
“This region’s population is set to double over the next 20 years and West Moreton Health’s master plan is catering now for that growth,” Mr Willis said.
“That growth will mean more services provided by more staff, who will be working not just in the Ipswich CBD but across the region.
“As well as those staff coming into the CBD, across West Moreton Health, from Springfield to Gatton, we’d expect about 2500 extra staff would be working in the regional economy by 2036.”