New clinician excited about the future of surgery at Wonthaggi Hospital


A new clinician at Bass Coast Health is looking forward to the expansion of surgery when the new Wonthaggi Hospital Expansion theatres open in 2023.

Associate Professor Julian Hunt-Smith is the new Clinical Director of Anaesthetics and Perioperative Services at Bass Coast Health (BCH). He can’t wait for the new hospital to open, which will bring increased surgical capacity and capability to the community, enabling more patients to be managed closer to their homes.

“The biggest thing is to have a high-end anaesthetic service so that we can bring more anaesthetists and therefore more surgeons and patients here,” he said.

Part of that involves ultimately developing a High Dependency Unit as part of the new hospital, which will enable a greater range of surgeries to be conducted.

“We will be able to do more complex operations and treat sicker patients because we will have the capability to do so,” A/Prof Hunt-Smith said.

“At the moment, if you are particularly sick or have a more involved surgery, you are often transferred to another hospital with larger capability, so if we can build that here, it will be a game changer for the Bass Coast community.”

As part of increasing surgical capacity, A/Prof Hunt-Smith wishes to expand the number of General Practitioner Anaesthetists (GPAs) and Fellows of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FANZCAs) at BCH.

“We are fortunate to have a hybrid system of anaesthetic delivery in rural hospitals, where we have GPAs who are General Practitioners who have trained in anaesthetics as well as specialist anaesthetists who are Fellows of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. We have a model that uses the strengths of both groups to deliver anaesthetics to our patients,” he said.

“When we move to four Operating Theatres in the new hospital, we will need more anaesthetists to be able to increase the services we can offer to our patients.”

A/Prof Hunt-Smith was attracted to BCH by the expansion of services proposed and the regional location.

“I’d always wanted to work in a regional area and I thought it’s now or never,” he said.

“I have found the people are great and it’s nice to have the town and the hospital as a part of each other and to have that community feel and spirit.

“I like how we are moving into a new hospital and the challenge of building new services with that expansion.”

A/Prof Hunt-Smith brings an extensive range of experience to BCH and the community. He is a dual trained Intensivist and Anaesthetist with 20 years’ experience in specialist practice.

Trained at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, A/Prof Hunt-Smith has worked as Director of Critical Care Services at John Fawkner Hospital and Director of Intensive Care at Epworth Richmond Intensive Care Unit, as well as being Medical Director of that hospital for 18 months.

A/Prof Hunt-Smith has served as the chair of the Victorian Regional Committee for Intensive Care Medicine, has advised State Government on the Intensive Care Advisory Committee, and has conceived and facilitated courses and meetings at state and national level.

He has been an examiner for the College of Intensive Care for 11 years and was appointed as an Associate Professor in the Medical Education Department of the University of Melbourne in 2016.

A/Prof Hunt-Smith’s main interest has been in education, especially in the area of inter-professional systems.