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NorthWest acquires land to expand partnership with Aurora Healthcare and develop a ~$50m expansion to its mental health hospital in Sydney’s Hills region

The Hills Clinic

Melbourne, Australia: NorthWest Healthcare Properties Management (“NorthWest”), through its NZX-listed fund, Vital Healthcare Property Trust, today announced the acquisition of 4,340sqm of land adjacent to The Hills Clinic mental health hospital, run by Aurora Healthcare Australia (“Aurora”). NorthWest and Aurora will expand their existing partnership, and further develop this site by way of a ~$50 million, two-storey building expansion with additional beds and group therapy rooms, extending the existing hospital and services to treat more mental health patients at this facility.

NorthWest and its hospital operating partner, Aurora Healthcare, are pleased to announce this strategic initiative which seeks to address the material underservicing of vital mental health services in the broader region. The proposed development will also comprise a ~120 bay basement carpark, consolidated with the existing hospital.

NorthWest is the largest healthcare real estate owner, manager and developer in Australia and New Zealand, and specialises in the development of market-leading healthcare precincts and healthcare facilities to deliver a range of critical health services to local communities. Aurora Healthcare is the nation’s largest speciality private mental health provider with 1,000 beds across 16 facilities. Together, the partnership between NorthWest and Aurora Healthcare provides the ideal combined expertise and capability for the provision of mental health treatment facilities such as The Hills Clinic.

NorthWest Executive Director, Portfolio, Mr. Richard Roos said: “We are thrilled to acquire such an important development site, adjacent to one of our existing hospitals – The Hills Clinic – and extend our partnership with Aurora Healthcare, who we have worked with to establish this clinic as a highly regarded mental health facility. The Hills Clinic is experiencing significant growth in demand for the critical services it provides, and we’re pleased to continue working with Aurora Healthcare to meet this demand.

“The provision of high-quality treatment facilities for mental health patients is increasingly critical in our community, and mental health is a materially under-serviced part of the Australian healthcare industry. The effects of the pandemic and associated lockdowns have further exacerbated the demand for mental health treatment, and we sought to meet this demand mid-last year by expanding The Hills Clinic to increase the number of beds by 44%, up to 85 in-patient beds. We look forward to increasing this capacity through our new development with Aurora, furthering our strong commitment to increasing Australians’ access to mental health,” Mr. Roos said.

NorthWest will commence the process for development approval as soon as possible for the new site, after which development is planned to commence in 2023 and be completed within a 15 month timeframe. NorthWest and Aurora expect to welcome the first patients by late 2024.

Mr. Roos continued: “NorthWest has ~1,000 beds for mental health patients across the country, with our pipeline of projects under construction or planning set to increase this by 30% to over 1,300 beds.

“Across Australia, we have over $80 million invested in mental health projects currently under construction or planning. We are focused on maintaining a strong development pipeline with strategic sites such as this one in Kellyville, which represents the last remaining land available for expansion of the existing The Hills Clinic mental health hospital.” Mr. Roos said.

Aurora Chief Executive Officer Australia, Ms. Julia Strickland-Bellamy said: “Demand for mental health services in this region has been growing at an increasing rate. This pressing need for expanded treatment options for Sydney’s Hills community has, today, further extended our partnership with NorthWest’s Vital Healthcare Property Trust.

“The Hills Clinic is a highly successful mental health service model; it attracts patients from across Australia due to its specialised treatment for young adults. This expansion enables The Hills Clinic to further broaden its specialised mental health services for our existing patient population, while introducing new treatment offerings to meet demand. Young adults will remain a key part of our expanded service while eating disorders, PTSD for first responders, trauma and addictions are all under consideration.

Ms. Strickland-Bellamy said patients can expect an enhanced treatment experience through expanded facilities earmarked as additional group therapy rooms, patient activity areas including outside space and a gymnasium, as well as private doctors consulting rooms.

“Not only will this address unmet demand for accessible private mental health services with purpose-built facilities, it will also provide recruitment opportunities for psychiatrists, allied health, nurses and staff generally to support this growing service. We look forward to working together to deliver critical mental health treatment through this exciting new hospital development,” said Ms. Strickland-Bellamy.

Australia-wide, Aurora Healthcare has committed to significantly investing in expanded private mental health inpatient, day patient and outpatient services and facilities to meet unmet demand. The company has also invested in a new, online mental health service to facilitate accessible mental health services for all Australians.