20 April 2022

Communities in the State's Far West will benefit from a major investment in local health services, with the NSW Government today announcing an upgrade to the Broken Hill Health Service Emergency Department, an enhanced acute mental health inpatient unit and a new virtual intensive care (vICU) service.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the significant investment is part of the NSW Government's commitment to improving regional and rural health.

"Regional health is a focus of our Government, and today's announcement builds on our vision to deliver the best possible health outcomes for all our remote communities, including here in the State's Far West," Mr Toole said.

Minister for Regional Health and Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the NSW Government is investing $10 million to improve the Broken Hill Health Service Emergency Department, complementing a major upgrade of the hospital's mental health unit.

"This is about ensuring patients, their families, carers and staff in the region have access to the best health and mental health care available," Mrs Taylor said.

"The emergency department will be reconfigured to better meet the critical health needs of the region, including tailored treatment spaces for children and those requiring mental health services.

"The NSW Government is also upgrading the mental health unit at Broken Hill Health Service, delivering a modern therapeutic space with co-designed facilities by people with lived experience."

The NSW Government also today launched a new vICU service that links critically ill patients and their Far West Local Health District (LHD) clinicians with Sydney-based specialists.

This model of care uses remote monitoring and video conferencing to connect clinicians, patients and carers in Broken Hill Health Service with intensive care staff at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and virtual hospital, rpavirtual.

Minister for Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the vICU will allow remote communities to prioritise treatment and provide continuous high-definition monitoring of multiple critically ill patients.

"This service will significantly enhance the capacity of the Broken Hill Health Service to care for very ill patients in the West," Mr Saunders said.

"It's a great outcome for residents here and will reduce the likelihood of them needing to be airlifted to a city hospital."

NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce said the partnership between Sydney and Far West LHDs showed how the highly networked NSW Health system continues to collaborate to improve patient experiences and health outcomes throughout the State.

"Having worked as a clinician at the Broken Hill Health Service ICU at the start of my career, I understand how valuable this service is for staff and patients alike, and we will continue to encourage and support these kinds of collaborations throughout the NSW Health system," Ms Pearce said.

A scoping study has commenced and design options for the acute mental health inpatient unit are currently being developed, with work to commence in the coming weeks.

The upgrade to the mental health unit at Broken Hill Health Service is being funded as part of the $700 million state-wide mental health infrastructure program - the largest investment in mental health care infrastructure by a NSW Government.

The $10 million investment in the Broken Hill Health Service Emergency Department is part of the NSW Government's $500 million investment in rural and regional health infrastructure announced in November 2021.