Castlemaine Health is facing some big challenges to delivering its health services in the same way, into the future.

Our main site at the hospital in Castlemaine is not easy to get to or around. It’s hard for people to access our services and move between them, especially older people and those with limited mobility.

It’s a highly rated health service but it’s being undermined by ageing facilities, which are expensive to maintain. Castlemaine Health is facing costs of $40 million in the next 10 to 15 years just to make sure the current facilities remain safe and meet standards.

These costs mean the hospital and aged care service is not sustainable. As the local population increases and ages, the demand for services will increase significantly too.

While these are big challenges, they also offer us a chance to do things differently. There’s an opportunity for us to create a new, sustainable health service for the future.

We did some early work to find out what might be possible and how much it could cost. The three options described potential locations for Castlemaine Health, as well as the services that it might offer. All options included a new hospital and 160 beds for aged care accommodation, with the possibility of a ‘primary care hub’. They were:

  • Option 1 – redevelop the current site (Cornish Street)
  • Option 2 – split services between the current site and old hospital site (Halford Street)
  • Option 3 – find a new site.

Our discussion paper explores these issues in more detail.

We want to guarantee that health services continue to be delivered in Castlemaine well into the future. To achieve this, we need to propose a new shape for the health service. It must:

  • be easy to access and get around
  • feel seamless for patients in its focus on delivering the best outcomes
  • be supported by close partnerships with other health services in the area and region
  • be delivered from modern infrastructure that is fit for purpose
  • boasts a skilled and professional workforce
  • sustainable.

We consulted

We held a public consultation to understand what services our community wanted to see in the future, and where they would like those services to be located. We heard from a broad range of people from right across the shire. Many have been patients, visitors, staff or volunteers. Many were familiar with our services but some were not.

We held 11 roundtable discussions, presented at forums, clubs and meetings, and held pop-up stands in Castlemaine. Throughout the consultation, we took comments, ideas and opinions from almost 1000 people.

What did we find?

We heard that Castlemaine Health provides an outstanding service and you feel fortunate to have it so close by. Many of you have moved to Mount Alexander Shire because of it. You said that you liked being able to talk about the hospital’s future with our board and executive.

Throughout the consultation, we heard many exciting ideas for the future. We heard suggestions on where we our buildings should be located. We also heard ideas for the type of sustainable design you’d like to see incorporated into new facilities.

You said that Castlemaine Health has struggled over the years with a lack of master plan to steer improvements and expansion. We heard very clearly that you do not want to see money or resources wasted. You don’t want to see empty buildings around town or money spent on temporary ‘fixes’. You want a considered, long-term strategy for the future put in place.

Many mentioned Bendigo Hospital with mixed feelings. Some felt that Bendigo’s recent redevelopment might make it more difficult for Castlemaine to be improved. But with over 60% of Castlemaine Health’s patients coming from Bendigo, others said it was important that we had the appropriate facilities and capacity to meet demand.

While your feedback was wide-ranging, it focused on several main themes. These were:

  • access, site and facilities
  • aged care
  • services
  • health and wellness
  • transport and parking.

Our summary report explores these themes in more detail.

Next steps

Our community's submissions have formed the basis of funding bid that was submitted to Government in November 2017. As part of that bid, we also put forward a detailed analysis of services and community need.

As a first step, we’d like to secure funding for a masterplan to guide Castlemaine Health’s development over the next 20 years.

We would like to thank everyone who took part. We heard from many people about what was important to them and why. We heard very moving, personal stories about people's experiences of the healthcare system here in the shire and outside it.

We’d like to thank you all for taking the time to be involved and for sharing your stories with us.

We would also like to thank the members of our Community Consultation Committee and Board of Management. All board and committee members are volunteers who donate their time and knowledge to improving our health service. Their guidance, support and direction throughout the consultation has been invaluable.