Mr Blackwood has claimed some in the community think delays in committing to a new hospital are a sign the government plans to reduce services or close the hospital by stealth.
Labor MP for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing told the Baw Baw Citizen that was not true.
“It’s more than a little rich for these sorts of claims to be out there when we have repeatedly confirmed it’s not about the fact that West Gippsland needs a new hospital, it’s about when,” Ms Shing told the Baw Baw Citizen.
“They’re up to their necks in it this week, and so are tinkering around the edges with trying to create a scare campaign around our commitment to a new hospital for Warragul when their leadership is in tatters.
“The minister has been provided with information around the planning and the proposals for new resources required for the West Gippsland Health Service and for the hospital, and we’ll keep doing that work. But for the opposition to dictate the timing on this is more than a little rich given they failed to do anything about it when they were last in government.”
Mr Blackwood acknowledged some planning work had been done by the government, but said it had not been released to the public.
“The Coalition has promised to, if elected in 2018, build a new hospital on a new site,” Mr Blackwood told the Baw Baw Citizen.
“We really want some answers from the Andrews government as to what their plans are because our population is continuing to grow amazingly quickly and the pressure on the West Gippsland Hospital is growing day by day.”
The Coalition’s delivery timeline depends on planning work completed under the present government.
“We will immediately have a review of what planning has been done by the current government [if we win the next election], and as long as sufficient planning has been done… we should be able to get moving fairly quickly,” Mr Blackwood said.
“We would certainly hope to get construction underway in the first couple of years of being back in government.”
Quoting the latest Department of Health and Human Services performance data, Ms Shing said the Labor party had taken actions which had produced measurable improvements at the present hospital site in the interim.
“If you look at the demand for emergency, elective surgery, and ambulance services, we in fact have had 5,546 in emergency between April and June, compared to 5,397 in the same period last year,” Ms Shing said.
“We’ve treated 100 per cent of the three category one emergency patients immediately on arrival between April and June 2017, and we’ve reduced the number of patients on the elective [surgery] waiting list from 446 to 338 over the past year.
“In addition to that, we’ve provided operations to 96 per cent of all elective surgery patients within the benchmark times in the June quarter, and that’s well above the state average of 90 per cent.
“That’s on top of improving ambulance response times, with 60.4 per cent of ambulances now arriving within 15 minutes for code one, and that’s up from 48 per cent this time last year.”
Mr Blackwood praised the efforts of local hospital staff in keeping the hospital working effectively.
“The staff and doctors and all involved at that hospital do a fantastic job, but they can’t be expected to deal with the huge demand in the old hospital on the old site,” Mr Blackwood said.
“We need to make a decision about building the new hospital on the new site, and that needs to be supported by the Labor government as we have promised.”
A version of this story first appeared in yesterday’s Baw Baw In 90 Seconds. Watch the full bulletin below.