24 November 2023

$1b Northside Hospital project moves to next design phase

| Ian Bushnell
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Northside Hospital artist's impression

A concept render of the proposed $1 billion Northside Hospital. It will double the capacity of the current North Canberra Hospital by 2041. Image: ACT Government.

Another step has been taken towards the development of the proposed new Northside Hospital on the former Calvary Public site with the ACT Government seeking a consultant to devise a reference design for the $1 billion project.

But there are few details available about the tender which is subject to a confidentiality deed.

None of the tender documents are available for public viewing and the Tenders ACT website only says the new hospital’s facilities will need to include a stand-alone mental health facility and multi-storey carpark.

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Documents available to tenderers include concept design reports, a Strategic Functional Design Brief, and inclusions.

In September, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith told the Legislative Assembly the consultation had started with clinicians on what they thought the new hospital in Bruce should contain.

Ms Stephen-Smith said $64.2 million had been set aside in the 2023-24 Budget to progress to the detailed design phase.

“It is vital the government hears from clinicians currently working in the northside acute hospital. Their voices will be crucial as we embark on the next steps to building an integrated public health system and investing in a new hospital,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“The ACT Government will also consult with the community and key stakeholders during the design process, which will keep the broader community informed with up-to-date, accessible information about the project through all stages of design and development.”

An ACT Government spokesperson said the reference design would go to the construction contractor before the final detailed design showing what would be in every room.

It followed the high-level concept design to inform the business case, including a “block and stack” of the building and how much space the services would require.

The spokesperson did not elaborate on other facilities but said the new hospital would more than double the capacity of the current North Canberra Hospital by 2041.

“The hospital will be on the current campus of the North Canberra Hospital [compulsorily acquired from Calvary Health Care in July] and will be constructed on the front portion of the block, fronting Hayden Drive,” the spokesperson said.

“The architect will need to design to this area, as well as look at the design for services on the northern block, which is being examined for a stand-alone mental health facility and a new carpark.”

Construction was expected to start mid-decade, with the first steps including demolition and environmental and ecological assessments given the bushland surrounding the site.

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The spokesperson said there were no impediments to advancing the project.

The government now owned the land including space to expand. Calvary Public Hospital’s services and its 1775 staff had been successfully transitioned to Canberra Health Services.

“There are still some transition activities occurring relating to ICT systems and some contracts, but these are being resolved in collaboration with Calvary,” the spokesperson said.

Calvary had 12 months from the 3 July acquisition date to make any compensation claims.

The tender closes on 14 December.

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$1 billion can buy two hospitals and from the drawing looks like one has squished the other.

We already have two hospitals. They can’t run one.

Amazing we can take over and detail design a hospital in one year. However on the south side it takes on average 10 years to upgrade any road.

If they are going to build a new hospital build it twice as high on half the land and make it so it can be reconfigured.

The Canberra hospital seems to be a dogs breakfast of different buildings and extensions. Its growing like a tumor would.

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