Further funds for Canberra Hospital ICU expansion flagged in August’s ACT Budget

Dominic Giannini 9 March 2021
Rachel Stephen-Smith and Zed Seselja.

ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith and ACT Senator Zed Seselja announced the commencement of the ICU expansion on Friday, 5 March. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith has flagged that further money for staffing and resourcing expansion of Canberra Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) will be announced in the 2021-2022 ACT Budget in August.

The $13.5 million expansion will add an additional eight ICU beds and includes another pressurised room, where a positive COVID-19 patient would be kept – bringing the total number to five – as well as two isolation rooms for other infections.

The expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

The beds will be introduced in a staged manner, with the ACT Government still finalising the model of care that will be delivered and what number of beds will become available in what time period, said Ms Stephen-Smith.

“We will move into the new part of the ICU, which will provide a more modern space quite quickly and then see how many of those beds we need to actually staff, or how many of the old beds we need to keep open and staff depending on what demand looks like,” she said.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the new ICU would complement the surge capacity of the hospital and help staff to better cope during periods of high demand.

“A really important part of what we do in planning across Canberra Hospital is to recognise that as new parts open, that frees up other space that can then be repurposed,” she said.

“It is a constant game of Tetris, if you like, as we expand and modernise Canberra Hospital.”

The expansion will provide surge capacity when demand increases for intensive care beds and extra staff can be called upon at short notice.

“That is something we have had to work through in the early stages of COVID-19 – what is our ICU capacity right across the Territory, and how would we expand that capacity if we had a surge in demand?”


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ACT Senator Zed Seselja said the expansion would “make a difference to the sickest and most critical patients in need of high-level care across our region”.

The Canberra Hospital expansion will eventually include a new emergency, surgical and critical healthcare facility which will include 60 ICU beds.

Around 2200 patients are treated in Canberra Hospital’s ICU every year.

The entire Canberra Hospital expansion is due to be completed in 2024.


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