THE redevelopment of Shellharbour Hospital has reached a key milestone, with the appointment of the lead design team.
A $300 million proposal for the hospital could double its size from about 150 to 330 beds.
This will provide 500 more jobs for healthcare workers throughout the district.
The Shellharbour Hospital Service Plan, released by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District last Tuesday, calls for a $250-$300 million upgrade of the hospital.
The plan follows on from the blueprint released last October, which looked at future healthcare needs throughout the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the hospital's redevelopment will result in the campus being redeveloped as a major metropolitan hospital and the hub for the Southern Illawarra community.
"The range and depth of services delivered from Shellharbour Hospital will be significantly expanded from current practice to meet the Local Health District's objectives to maximise patient safety and service quality, enhance efficiency of service provision and enhance overall service sustainability," Mr Ward said.
"The state government has committed $10 million towards the Illawarra Hospital planning project, with $3.2 million committed in the 2013-14 State Budget. Planning for the project is expected to be completed by early 2014."
The design team will consist of architects Billard Leece, project managers Johnstaff Projects and cost managers Rider Levett Bucknall.
Labor Shellharbour MP Anna Watson welcomed the design team's appointment.
She again called for the government to outline a funding road map to expand the southern Illawarra's health services.
"The most important element of the upgrade plan for Shellharbour Hospital is the funding of it," she said.
"I call on the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, to commit all of the $10 million to do all of the planning work for the upgrade of Shellharbour Hospital instead of the dribble of funding which was committed in the last budget."
The process for securing the capital works funding for the redevelopment is likely to take a further 12 months.
Ms Skinner welcomed the plan without committing the government.