A lack of housing remains an issue for South West Healthcare. Chief executive officer Craig Fraser said the health service was finding it hard to find long and short-term accommodation options for staff. "Whilst we try hard to assist new employees, it is often problematic to find accommodation that suits their start date, their family needs or time frames," Mr Fraser said. "If we are unable to help them find accommodation then they may withdraw from the position." Mr Fraser said it was extremely hard to find short-term accommodation for staff in the city over summer. This made it difficult to attract locum or short-term staff to assist with immediate gaps in staffing, he said. "The impacts of this are seasonal (summer is more difficult) and depends on the cohort of people we are trying to find accommodation for," he said. "South West Healthcare has developed a number of accommodation options including units, shared accommodation and houses that we rent including Airbnbs, hotels and caravan parks. "This is suitable for short-term contracts, but not helpful when trying to recruit long-term employees or entice employees with families to move and re-locate permanently to the region. "South West Healthcare also owns a number of houses in town which are always full and used for medical and staff accommodation." Mr Fraser said the health service was recruiting heavily for staff to fill roles in mental health. "We are currently recruiting heavily in mental health so that we can meet the recommendations and expectations of changes associated with the Royal Commission," he said. "Housing is only one of the challenges for recruiting to these positions - it is a highly competitive industry, with all health services looking to make the same changes to their services and recruit from the same pool of professionals. "We are also not exclusively recruiting to Warrnambool, we are also looking to recruit staff where we have other campuses in Portland, Hamilton, Camperdown, Macarthur and Lismore, where each town has similar but also their own unique challenges." Mr Fraser said there were no immediate plans to invest in more housing. "Every investment outside of our health service needs to be weighed on its merit. Any funds that are directed away from equipment or services needs to be justified," he said "Providing housing to attract staff or provide a means to expand services for our region is an important strategy, but must be weighed equally with other priorities." Mr Fraser said the city needed more housing and infrastructure to support new residents. "Supply also needs to take into consideration development that is attractive to buyers and families looking for a permanent lifestyle change and that fosters a sense of community," he said. "This means looking at supporting infrastructure like childcare access, parks and green spaces access to schools and amenities like pools, libraries, gyms, access to the beach or Grampians, free and accessible parking. "Even things like the availability and cost of trades. "When a staff member makes the decision to move here (and purchase property) that decision is based on a range of factors for their family - we are always trying to position both our health service and the south-west region itself as attractive career options but it requires a coordinated effort." Mr Fraser spoke about the housing affecting the service's ability to attract staff due to a lack of housing last year. His comments come as it was revealed recently South West Healthcare had grown its medical workforce by 200 people in the past year, hiring 70 new doctors as it greatly expands its services.