Plans to build a new hospital in Beersheba progressed after the National Council for Planning and Construction decided to move forward with the planned 345 acre complex on Tuesday. The new hospital will ease the patient load currently experienced by Soroka Hospital in Beersheba which has been open for 60 years and serves much of the south and the periphery.The decision marks the most concrete action taken on the matter since September 2014, when the government decided on a multi-year plan to develop the south and establish a public hospital in Beersheba. The new complex will include the hospital featuring 1,900 beds and commerce, hotel, alternative medicine and paramedical services, as well as research centers. The hospital itself will be named after former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres.The development plan also includes the possibility 250-400 apartment units for medical faculty employees, students and senior housing, according to Israeli business daily Calcalist. A light rail train will link the hospital complex to Beersheba and serve 20,000 people daily.After the approval by the National Council for Planning and Construction, a tender for the construction of the public hospital with about 500 beds will be publicized with an estimated cost of NIS 1.5 billion, partially from the state budget and partially from the body that is awarded the tender. The Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv told The Jerusalem Post that they will be submitting a formal bid for the new hospital.A new study by the Knesset Research and Information Center published ahead of the "Periphery in the Center" convention found that one out of four residents of the periphery give up medical care because it would require them to travel far to receive care, according to Ynet."Over half of those surveyed answered that in the last year they received medical care in an area far from where they live because the required service isn't offered where they live," said director-general of the Knesset Albert Sakharovich. "This is serious and is due to the lack of certain services in the periphery."Mayor of Beersheba Ruvik Danilovich told Calcalist that "Soroka will always be the main hospital in the Negev, but it can't handle all the health challenges that are expected in the future alone. Additionally, I believe that there must be competition in the health system.""I welcome the decision by the National Council for Planning and Construction to move forward with the Ministry of Health's plan to build a new hospital in Beersheba," said deputy health minister Yacov Litzman in a statement. "This is important news that we have been working on for a long time. We succeeded in passing another substantial milestone today towards the goal of establishing another central hospital in Israel. This is a necessary national mission that is important for the good of patients in the south and the periphery and for the Israeli healthcare system. This news joins accelerated moves to establish another hospital in Kiryat Ata in the north."Danilovich called the decision a "historic moment!" Danilovich stated the decision was passed unanimously and the final decision was made on the location of the future hospital and international biotech and industry complex."In the coming days, we will say thank you publicly and express appreciation for all the central partners who helped establish the hospital (and they are many and include government offices and planning officials), for the welfare of residents of the Negev and for the improvement of the healthcare system," said Danilovich. "It's even already fitting to point out the personal involvement and pushing from Deputy Health Minister Yacov Litzman and Director General of his office, Moshe Bar Siman Tov." The mayor finished his statement with a paraphrase of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, saying, "In the Negev, Israel will be tested."In February, the Health Ministry sought consultations with interested parties concerning the establishment of a second public hospital in Beersheba. "This is an exercise in evasion or election propaganda," claimed the Coalition of Health Organizations in the Negev at the time, according to Calcalist. Previous announcements about the "new Soroka" were made by the government in September 2014 and January 2017. "They're throwing sand in the faces of Negev residents," said the coalition.Health Ministry officials told Calcalist in February that the new hospital would start functioning in 2025 in the best case scenario, as they estimated that by then about a million people would be living in the Negev. The business daily now estimates that the plan will be fully implemented within 15-20 years.