Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Women's and Children's Hospital

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:51): Once again, vision and common sense have triumphed over fear of progress, with the decision to build a new Women's and Children's Hospital alongside the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The new hospital, many years overdue, will reinforce the north-western end of the CBD as a world-class medical precinct.

Does anyone in South Australia really doubt the need to move away from the outdated, tired building constructed in the 1950s? Perhaps we could give it a coat of paint and take on all the health issues that come with the renovation of a hospital while keeping the facility kilometres away from the state's largest hospital. What is it with this devotion to renovation over new construction? Has anybody opposing this development ever costed the price of building a new house compared to the price of creating the same living quarters within an established construction? Obviously not.

We could have overhauled Football Park and just kept dealing with countless issues, including the traffic nightmare; we could have endlessly renovated the old RAH and dealt with infection and hygiene problems as they arose; we could have kept the trams stopping at Victoria Square and let everybody walk the rest the way to Rundle Mall, the Casino, cafe's, hotels and the Entertainment Centre. We did not, and I am fairly sure everyone now finally thinks we did the right thing. They may have seemed hard decisions at the time, but they were actually no-brainers, and history proves that each one of those has been an overwhelming win for Adelaide and South Australia.

Some wonderful old buildings are worth keeping for many reasons, including their heritage value, and some are not. A hospital built in the worst architectural era in modern history, a functionalist design that struggled to even keep pace with its function, does not warrant preservation on any sort of emotional or heritage grounds.

The fact is that the new Women's and Children's Hospital will be a world leader in the delivery of vital health services and outcomes. The old Women's and Children's Hospital has served its purpose, albeit far less effectively in recent years, but now it is time to retire it and build something far more suitable and sustainable.

This new facility will be perfectly located next to the world-class Royal Adelaide Hospital, giving both medical centres scope to expand as required in the future. Doctors, specialists, nurses, staff, patients and visitors are being listened to throughout the planning design and delivery processes to ensure that we get a hospital that will meet community needs now and well into the future.

The purpose of building a new Women's and Children's Hospital is to provide the best care for women and children in need of medical treatment. Medical technology will be cutting edge, the amenity of the new hospital will prioritise patient health and safety and the number of treatment spaces will rise from around 300 to 550.

I am sure there may have been a better way to keep throwing money at our old hospital and undertake constant renovations, but we had a better idea. We decided to put the patients, the women and the children of South Australia, first. We can only remember when we made the decision to build a new Royal Adelaide Hospital: the Liberals' policy at that stage was to give the old hospital a coat of paint, knock down a few walls, a couple of buildings and try to reinvigorate that building.

There was nearly no support for that from within the medical fraternity within that hospital. I remember speaking to many nurses and medical staff at the time who basically could only look forward to moving into a state-of-the-art new Royal Adelaide Hospital. As a result, we are building a state-of-the-art medical facility, and we are going to retire the old hospital.

The new Women's and Children's Hospital will serve us for many years to come and help provide the women and children of this state with a healthy future.