WESTERN suburbs residents will soon have better access to specialists and mental health services, with a new clinic to open in Werribee in five weeks.
After four years planning, Wyndham Private will open opposite Werribee Mercy Hospital on May 1.
The man behind the project, Dr Laurie Williams, believes the clinic will greatly improve access to health care.
The clinic would work with the hospital to provide care for serious but non-urgent emergency department patients, he said, easing pressure on waiting times.
It's hoped that by providing mental health services, the clinic can help free up emergency department beds at the hospital.
Werribee Mercy has long blamed delays in treating emergency department patients on the high number of mental health patients occupying emergency beds because there's nowhere else for them to go.
The shortage of mental health services in the west is also causing problems for GPs.
Werribee GP, Dr Joe Garra, said about 20per cent of the patients he treated each day had mental health-related issues.
"There are fewer than a handful of private psychiatrists in the area, then the burden ends up on the hospital. We're really limited to where we can refer people for mental health problems."
Dr Williams, who has worked in the western suburbs as an obstetrician for 30 years, has already developed a similar clinic in Sunshine and a smaller specialist centre in Point Cook.
"This clinic is well overdue. This is the area every health provider across the country has identified as important to them."
The clinic will include a 10-doctor, bulk-billing general practice clinic, physiotherapists, cardiologists, obstetricians, pathologists and psychologists.
It will also provide services Werribee Mercy Hospital can't, such as in vitro fertilisation.
The opening of the new clinic follows the closure of Victoria's only 24-hour mental health helpline last week and recent lobbying by councils for more health services in the west.
Hobsons Bay Council recently called for improved health care in the wake of a report showing that cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, diabetes and male obesity
rates in the area are higher than the state
Mayor Tony Briffa said that despite the higher prevalence of chronic diseases, the west was served only by Werribee Mercy Hospital and the four campuses of Western Health.