Sunshine Coast welcomes health-related businesses

Thursday 18 May, 2017 | By: Darrell Giles | Tags: Sunshine Coast Council, Westfund Health, healthcare, health insurance

HealthCare has become a huge priority on the Sunshine Coast.

Befitting the region’s healthy lifestyle, it is now home to Australia’s largest investment in healthcare infrastructure, including the new $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

SCUH saw its first patients on March 21 and was officially opened on April 19 by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Cameron Dick.

After more than four years of construction, planning and commissioning, the hospital is staggering the opening of its departments over two months.

Spread over a 20-hectare site at Birtinya, the new public hospital will revolutionise healthcare on the Sunshine Coast, offering a range of free public healthcare services supported by highly trained and specialised staff.

"This is the first new, not replacement, tertiary-level hospital to be built in Australia in 20 years, giving the Sunshine Coast residents access to the very best healthcare services,” said Mr Dick, at the opening.

"The new services the hospital brings will make an enormous difference to the lives of patients and their families, who will no longer have to travel away from home to access some types of treatment."

Services and capacity at SCUH will continue to develop over the coming years, with plans to grow to 738 beds by 2021. It can be expanded to 900 beds beyond 2021 if needed.

With a specific view on the environment, there's been a focus on turning the sterile, clinical nature of a hospital with greenery, open space and art.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Kevin Hegarty said the systems, standards and facilities at SCUH are world-class.

“I know that they are underpinned by the commitment of all our staff to deliver care to the highest standard and to do so in a caring and professional way. Our community can rightly feel safe in the hands of a health service which provides consistent, safe patient care,” he said.

There is high demand for healthcare services on the Sunshine Coast with one quarter of the region’s population aged over 65 and the average age set to grow to 42.5 years by 2030.

Healthcare is the region’s largest employer, with about 1700 businesses employing more than 21,000 people. There are also about 500 GPs on the Sunshine Coast.

One business that has taken advantage of the healthcare priority is Westfund Health, Australia’s largest private health insurance fund, which set up a state head office in Maroochydore in 2014.

(Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson at the opening of the WestFund Health office, below)

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Westfund Health SEQ Regional Manager Debbie Neame said having an office on the coast meant better access to private health insurance services and numerous employment opportunities for the area.

In 2012 and 2013, Westfund returned more than $7 million to longer term members through premium discounts. The fund also operates eye care and dental care services on some regional areas.

“There are so many benefits to running a business on the Sunshine Coast for an employer – lifestyle, lower wage costs, a strong and developing health precinct and a sense of positivity and business growth,” Ms Neame said.

Sunshine Coast Council offers strong support for the healthcare sector and development of an industry investment plan will help it further develop and grow the health and wellbeing industry.

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