Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has approached the Northern Territory government with the offer of building a $175 million oncology and specialist hospital in Darwin to treat high-end patients.
The facility would have about 20 beds, two of which could be reserved for local patients, medical adviser Michael Copeman indicated.
The privately-run hospital would specialise in cancer treatments and non-invasive keyhole and robotic surgery, but most of the treatments would not be covered by Medicare or private health funds, Dr Copeman said.
A spokesman for Ms Rinehart said it was hoped the hospital would become a regional leader in cancer treatment that would also attract overseas patients who could afford to seek its treatments.
“Darwin is perfectly placed … We believe Australia needs to extend its northern region,” he said.
He called the hospital “a gift, not a business venture” and said it was intended as a charitable gesture.
The NT government is scouting potential hospital locations but would not run the facility.
“We don’t want this hospital to be a burden on the Northern Territory government,” Dr Copeman said, suggesting a private hospital operator like Healthscope could be contracted to manage it.
He said it would be seen as a high-end health service compared to what’s offered by Medicare and private insurance.
A potential site would need to offer “attractive views” both for patients and staff, Dr Copeman said, as well as be located near the Royal Darwin Hospital and Darwin Private Hospital in the northern suburbs of the city.
Actual construction is still a long way off, and it may be several years before the facility is operational, he said.
A spokeswoman for the NT’s chief minister welcomed the facility as a generous offer.
“It would definitely help build the territory as a place of medical excellence and would provide access to treatments that aren’t readily available,” she said.