Works are set to soon begin on the new Health and Innovation Precinct at the John Hunter Hospital.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard visited the site on Tuesday morning, picking up a shovel to turn the first sod at the site.

The $835 million project includes a seven-storey, state-of-the-art acute services building.

Mr Hazzard says it’s important the Hunter has the healthcare services to keep up with the population.

“I know from my local family members that the growth in the Hunter particularly is quite incredible,” he said. “We’re probably expecting, I think, about 22 percent growth just in the next 15 years.”

“Increasing the emergency department by about 40 percent, the theatres by about 50 percent, the ICU by about 60 percent, and of course all of the other services, including the paediatric services and so on, is just going to make a huge difference.”

The facility will also include more adult and paediatric critical care services, a birthing suite and inpatient maternity unit, a neonatal intensive care unit and special care nursery, a new rooftop helipad, and more than 900 car spaces for staff and visitors.