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The People’s Hospital Tales from the surgeon's table

Future plans: the rise and rise of the West

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Looking westward: the West Gate Bridge with Footscray and other inner western suburbs in the background.

David Johns

Footscray Hospital and Sunshine Hospital have joined the ranks of Victoria’s major teaching hospitals. The entire organisation of Western Health now manages more than half a million patient presentations each year and employs more than 6,200 staff.

Western Health’s status as one of the West’s leading public institutions continues to rise, along with the West’s rapid population growth, which will see more than one million people living in the region by 2026, according to government estimates.

The Victorian government announced in 2015 that the 237 bed Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital will be built at Sunshine Hospital by the end of 2018, to cater for the region’s baby boom. It is estimated that more than 7000 babies will eventually be born each year at the hospital.

The population of Footscray and its nearby inner suburbs is flourishing. Young families, students and others are flocking to live in newly built apartments and the old cottages and houses once owned or rented by local factory workers.

Western Health’s evolution has been driven by a deep community need for decent public health services. Community need motivated local people to push for their own hospital in Footscray last century. It led to the self-reliance and can-do resourcefulness evident in so many of the surgeons and medical staff who devoted their working lives to Footscray Hospital and the people of the West.

By any measure, the citizens of the 1919 Hospital Movement would be pleased with the progress made.

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