Phillip Island could become a destination for Asian tourists jetting in to seek cancer treatment.
A major proposal is afoot to build an international radiation, oncology and chemotherapy treatment centre, complete with 72-bed luxury accommodation and possible golf course.
More than a million visitors flock to Phillip Island each year, with the penguin parade a particular drawcard for tourists from China, India and Indonesia.
It is envisaged that a new medical facility earmarked for a block of land on the south side of the island could also draw patients from Asia seeking a serene place for their cancer treatment and recovery.
Siemens Healthineers Australia helped convene discussions this week with federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who is also the local member, and the groups likely to run the facility, the Icon Group and GenesisCare.
Peter Spryszynski from Siemens Healthineers Australia said “medical tourists” could help subsidise the cancer treatments of local patients.
He said the tranquil surroundings of the island could compare favourably with conditions in Beijing and Shanghai.
“The time zone lends itself to being a good hub for the entire Asian market,” he said.
However Mr Hunt said the facility had been proposed, first and foremost, by the local community, and would exist to serve them.
“Perhaps, most hearteningly, the possible proponents Icon and Genesis both confirmed that if such a facility would proceed it would include bulk-billed facilities,” Mr Hunt said.
“This is a proposal to provide radiation and oncology services for locals within Phillip Island and the Bass Coast.”
Discussions are taking place with Chinese and Vietnamese investors to fund the project.
Meanwhile, a 52-hectare block of land currently for sale on Berrys Beach Road has been earmarked for the development.
The land, priced at $3.8 million, already has planning approval for 72 guests and an 18-hole golf course.
It is described by the estate agent as “a place to restore your soul and regain the balance in your life”.
The cancer facility proposal has been driven by the Phillip Island Medical and Health Action Group, which has campaigned over many years to increase the island’s access to health care.
Secretary Linda Marston said despite the area’s ageing population, local GP surgeries were only open until 10pm at the latest.
She said the area had a higher than average rate of cancers, probably due to retirees flocking to the area.
“We used to have a bush nursing hospital here and that was closed in 2008,” Ms Marston said.
“There were some stop-gap measures put in place by the state government to give us some extended GP hours and so on, but the community itself is calling for more additional medical services.
“In terms of comprehensive cancer care we are very limited in what we can access. So a lot of people spend a lot of time travelling to treatment.”
Elsewhere on the island, a new medical hub for Cowes has been funded but is not yet operational. It has been suggested the new cancer facility could also have local triage facilities that could cater for the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.