6 June 2018

ACT Budget: $112 million for Canberra Hospital to boost ED and cut surgery waiting lists

| Ian Bushnell
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The Budget funding will aim to improve the capacity of Canberra Hospital to respond to unexpected demand. File photo.

The ACT Government will pour $112 million into frontline services at the Canberra Hospital in a bid to meet increasing demand, especially during the flu-ridden winter months, and make a dent in the elective surgery waiting list.

There will be $47.2 million for more acute care, including the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and more hospital beds to meet peak demand periods, and $64.7 million to ‘permanently boost’ the number of elective surgeries by a 1000 a year and provide ‘sustainable’ funding for emergency surgeries.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris said the Budget funding would significantly improve the capacity of Canberra Hospital to respond to unexpected demand, especially during the winter surge, and support high demand areas such as maternity services.

She said bed capacity would be increased by up to 80 beds over the next four years, with bed numbers ‘flexing’ up and down as needed to respond to peaks in demand.

“For example, 72 more beds being available in the 2018 winter season, almost double the number available last year. As the major tertiary referral and trauma centre for the ACT and surrounding region, it is essential the Canberra Hospital continues to deliver the highest quality critical care services.

The Minister said the money for elective surgeries would enable ACT Health to plan for the delivery of 14,000 elective surgeries – an additional 1000 surgeries every year – to better deliver surgical care and reduce waiting times.

“It will also help the hospital, as the major tertiary and trauma centre for our region, to manage the increase in demand for emergency procedures, which in recent years has been growing at a rate in the order of 6 per cent per annum,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“With growing demand right across the health care system, the ACT Government is providing a significant rebasing of hospital funding every year to enable doctors, nurses and allied health staff to sustainably provide expert care to Canberrans every day.”

Ms Fitzharris said the funding would give ACT Health greater flexibility to put more resources into emergency and critical care, more surgeries and more beds. And it will significantly improve the ability of Canberra Hospital to manage bed occupancy and patient flow for the ED and surgical areas.

“The ACT is now the health care hub for a region of over one million people, and that calls for a sustainable step up in our investment in frontline staff and health services for our community,” she said.

The funding for Canberra Hospital follows Friday’s announcement of a $15 million upgrade to Calvary Public Hospital that included additional treatment spaces, improved access and triage arrangements, enhanced waiting areas and eight more beds in an expanded Short Stay Unit, including additional paediatric beds, within the Emergency Department.

“At the same time, we will support replacement and upgrades of essential equipment, including clinical and diagnostic equipment like patient monitoring equipment and a new CT scanner,” the Minister said.

As well, the Adult Inpatient Mental Health Unit will be refurbished.

The ACT Budget will be handed down on Tuesday, 5 June.

2018-19 ACT Budget

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