17 May 2024

ACT Labor opens campaign with pledge to hire 800 healthcare workers

| Ian Bushnell
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Rachel Stephen-Smith and Andrew Barr

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith and Chief Minister Andrew Barr inspect the new Critical Services Building at Canberra Hospital, which opens in August. Labor has made health its first election campaign announcement. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

ACT Labor has committed to hiring 800 more healthcare workers to staff the ACT’s expanding health footprint if returned to government at the Legislative Assembly election in October.

In its opening salvo of the campaign, Labor says that over the next term of government it will hire more nurses, doctors, specialists, midwives, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals to provide free healthcare across Canberra.

It will also hire more support staff including administrative workers, wards people, and allied health assistants.

The announcement shows the importance Labor attaches to health in its campaign strategy, an area it is spending big on but also one that has attracted intense criticism, particularly over wait times in emergency departments and for elective surgery.

It also revealed Labor’s slogan for the campaign – practical, progressive and proven.

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The Labor announcement said the staffing commitment would mean better care for every Canberran, no matter where they live.

It said the new recruits would add to the more than 580 additional full-time equivalent nurses, midwives, doctors and allied health professionals hired during the government’s current term, 180 more than promised at the 2020 election.

The 800 positions would be progressively recruited and funded in annual Budgets over consecutive years throughout the next term of government (2024-2028).

The first positions would be funded in the upcoming 2024-25 ACT Budget.

An artist’s impression of the South Tuggeranong Health Centre. It will be located near Lanyon Marketplace in Conder. Image: ACT Government.

The government is in the process of staffing the expanded Canberra Hospital, planning the new Northside Hospital, expanding Nurse-led Walk-in Centres, and establishing district health centres.

It has just announced services slated for the planned South Tuggeranong Health Centre in Conder, one of five new health centres being delivered across the ACT.

These services will include paediatrics, pathology collection, diabetes clinics, falls and falls injury prevention, dementia care, chronic disease programs, community nursing, and a virtual care interview room.

Other centres will be located in the Inner South, North Gungahlin and West Belconnen, while the health centre in Molonglo opened in 2022 to provide women’s and family health care to the area.

The government allocated $16.6 million in the 2023-24 Budget to design and construct the South Tuggeranong Health Centre and to progress site planning and preliminary design for the centres in North Gungahlin and the Inner South.

It says that consultation with Inner South and North Gungahlin residents will soon begin about the services and design of the new health centres proposed for their areas.

A development application for the South Tuggeranong Health Centre will be submitted and a builder engaged in the coming months, with construction expected to begin in the second half of 2024 and be completed by the end of 2025.

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Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said health workers were the public health system’s greatest asset.

“These skilled workers are committed to providing the best possible care to Canberrans,” she said.

“ACT Labor is helping them do that by hiring more staff to take the pressure off, reducing barriers to collaboration and making sure they have the infrastructure and equipment they need.”

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Labor was committed to growing the ACT’s public health services as Canberra’s population nears half a million people.

“We know that Canberrans want to see more free public healthcare, closer to home. That’s why we are continuing to invest in better health facilities right across the city,” he said.

“But, our hospitals and walk-in centres are only as good as the people working in them. And that’s why our first commitment of the 2024 election campaign is to hire the workers our future healthcare system will need.”

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There’s a magician and a rabbit waiting for Labor’s call up

I’ll add another P to their slogan……Pi$$ed off

Why does it take an upcoming election for this crowd to pretend they’re going to do something positive. Should have been ongoing .

optimusmaximus3:01 pm 12 Jun 24

They ARE doing something. CHS intend to recruit a hundred new nurses and doctors Thing is, they will have to bring them all in from overseas as health care workers from other states simply do not want to come to work here. Ignoring the festering toxic culture that has become entrenched at the Canberra Hospital over the last 20 years has really put people off from moving here. It might be a paradise for other public servants but definitely not for health care workers. This is a fact.

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