Aerial view of the Byron Central hospital construction site at Ewingsdale, looking north-east.

The chosen 6 hectare site at Ewingsdale, on the approach road to Byron Bay, is being rapidly transformed into the new Byron Central Hospital (BCH), scheduled to be opened by mid-2016.

The enabling and early works stage has included the completion of internal road base preparation, site in-ground drainage, bulk excavation and cut/fill, and installation of temporary site sheds.

More than 15,000 cubic metres of earthworks have been completed, and over 1,500m of stormwater pipe installed to date.

Taking shape is a new facility to replace the smaller hospitals in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby, estimated to cost $80M. Its aesthetic design incorporates a range of enviro-friendly features.

Services to be offered will include 24-hour emergency attention, with 14 ED acute treatment spaces; 43 overnight inpatient beds; low-risk maternity services, 20-bed, non-acute mental health unit; X-ray, ultrasound, CT, and OPG (dental imaging); 4-chair dental service, 4-chair chemotherapy unit, and ambulatory care services.

There will be expanded ambulatory clinic space for visiting medical services, allied health and community health clinics, plus co-location of community and allied health.

BCH will have over 2,400 power points and 700 data points, and some 102,000m of communications cabling and 95,000m of power cabling.

The construction contractor, Brookfield Multiplex, has a strong commitment to Aboriginal participation in its workforce, and using local contractors wherever possible.

Community members continue to show close interest in the process aimed at creating a surgical service with specialists undertaking day surgery, including diagnostic procedures, for public patients on the NNSW LHD’s booking list, as well as privately insured patients.

Consistent with statewide procedure, public patients would not be charged for these services. Nor is Byron Central Hospital part of any public-private partnership process, as it is a public hospital funded by the NSW Government. A ‘market sounding’ to explore interest in a suitable surgical model is continuing. This is focused on the nature of the opportunity, value for money for the state, and viability for the private sector.

The process has involved targeted approaches to potential providers, and extensive advertising and online presence. Although interest to date has been limited, proceeding to a tender process is considered justified, and may begin soon.