The storied hospital in the heart of Melbourne is closing its doors as the state struggles to cope with the rapid ageing of its population.
Key points:Stuart and Stirling Hospital is the oldest hospital in Australia and the state’s only publicly funded health facilityThe closure is part of the state government’s drive to cut costsThe hospital closed in July as the government attempted to stem its ballooning costs, which had been soaring by over $4 billion a year since the mid-1990s.
The hospital, founded in 1872, is the state-owned flagship health facility for Melbourne.
It’s the only publicly-funded health facility in Australia.
Its closure comes at a time when the state has had to rely on private providers to fill its hospitals.
It is also the biggest single employer in the city of Melbourne, with nearly 300 staff.
It has more than 600 beds and is considered the state capital.
It was built in 1876 by the first Anglo-Saxon settlers of Melbourne and the Victorian state government has long relied on private firms to run the hospital.
The closure of the hospital comes at an time when it has had its finances under pressure.
As of March 31, the state had been borrowing $2.9 billion, which was more than double the $1.8 billion it needed to cover its debt.
Stuart is one of three publicly-financed hospitals in the state, along with Stirling in the South West and St George Hospital in the north-west.
Its primary focus is on acute and inpatient care.
Its main clinical areas are cardiac, neurological and obstetrics.
It serves the entire city and surrounds the Melbourne CBD, and it’s also a destination for visitors to see Melbourne.
Its website says it offers care for patients of all ages, with more than 300 beds, more than 400 patients per day and a large range of specialists and specialists groups.
Its facilities include a paediatric unit, an ICU and the general ward.
Stirling is the only public hospital in Melbourne to offer surgery.
It opened in the 1980s, serving the inner-west of the city.
Its last operation was in September last year.
It had 1,400 beds, with a capacity of 10,000 people.
The health minister, Simon Birmingham, said in a statement that the hospital’s closure was the result of “continued significant and ongoing challenges in our budget”.
He said it was the first time in nearly 60 years that the state would not be able to afford to maintain or operate an institution of that size.
“The Government of Victoria is committed to keeping the health system sustainable and delivering the health and wellbeing services we need, regardless of the size of the patient population,” Mr Birmingham said.
“Stuart Health is a shining example of how our state and its patients can thrive when we work together.”
The health department is trying to reduce its spending, by closing some facilities and reducing the number of staff, to cope.
The closures are expected to have a major impact on the hospital, which is one-third the size it was when it opened in 1870.
Its total operating budget is $3.6 billion.
The ABC’s Ben White reports.