There is no better example of the significant impact a hospital can have on a local area than Sydney’s Westmead.
Since its opening on the site of the former showground and speedway in 1978, Westmead Hospital has grown to become one of Australia’s largest health services precincts and one of Sydney’s largest employment hubs with more than 18,000 specialist jobs.
Now with another $3 billion of investment committed by the NSW government, universities and private sector to transform the 75 hectare site into a world-class health, education and innovation district, it is expected Westmead could have another 50,000 workers and 7,000 university students by 2036.
Skilled populations flock to medical precincts
This expansion is set to consolidate Westmead as one of Sydney’s highest educated neighbourhoods, with a series of developments already underway including the Parramatta North Urban Transformation Program and Deicorp’s Highline master-planned residential community. It is forecast the residential population will increase from 12,400 to 20,000 by 2036.
An analysis of the region around Westmead by the consulting firm Deloitte Access Economics found Westmead has already been a magnet for highly skilled professionals, with one-third of Sydney’s PhD graduates living in the hospital’s labour market catchment. It found compared to the rest of Sydney, Westmead had the highest proportion of residents with post-graduate qualifications in medicine, science and engineering.
Residential developments aid hospital expansions
This trend in Westmead is also being repeated across Sydney, where major hospital redevelopments are underway, such as $341 million expansion of Concord Hospital, the $750 million Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) expansion and the $700 million redevelopment of St George Hospital.
These expanded hospital precincts will result in more health care workers looking for a place to live. The Greater Sydney Commission noted that more than 50 per cent of the jobs in the Kogarah area, where St George Hospital is based, are in the health care sector.
“Providing housing and choice for moderate-income households, students and health visitors are important to support the growth of the precinct,” it said.
Deicorp’s The Banks in Rockdale is among the numerous residential developments underway that will support the extra demand for housing near St George Hospital.
Healthcare worker population on the rise
In addition to the numerous medical precincts undergoing redevelopments expected to bring more skilled workers into areas surrounding hospitals, there is also the expectation that health-related jobs will be on the rise for years to come.
Over the past three decades, health care and social assistance jobs have grown from 8 to 13 per cent of the total workforce. But this pace of growth is expected to accelerate, with the Australian Government in its most recent jobs report forecasting the number of jobs in the sector will grow 14.9 per cent by mid-2023. That will only mean more skilled health workers looking to live near wherever in areas close to a medical precinct.