12 December 2018

Government unveils site for Canberra Hospital's $500m expansion

| Ian Bushnell
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SPIRE will eventually relieve pressure on the Canberra Hospital which is struggling to cope with increasing demand. File photo.

The Canberra Hospital’s planned $500 million expansion will be built on the north-eastern side of the hospital campus between Hospital Road and Palmer Street, with construction to commence in 2020.

Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris today announced the long-awaited location for the new Surgical Procedures, Interventional Radiology and Emergency (SPIRE) Centre, which will feature more operating theatres, more inpatient wards and a larger Intensive Care Unit, bolstering capacity at the hospital.

“It will have a coronary care unit for people requiring high-level care for heart conditions, state-of-the-art surgical, procedural and imaging facilities and a significantly expanded ED, enabling capacity for specialist emergency healthcare for women and children,” she said.

The Government has been under continual pressure over the ACT’s hospital services, with reports identifying high costs and long treatment waits, particularly in the ED, amid increasing demand.

Ms Fitzharris said that since SPIRE was funded in the 2017-18 Budget, extensive planning and feasibility work, including Territory-wide health services modelling, had been under way. The new centre is due to be completed in 2023-24.

She said that it would future proof the city and help the public health system respond to increasing demand as the ACT grows.

“SPIRE will transform the Canberra Hospital, increasing the Territory’s capacity to deliver acute, hospital-based healthcare in a modern, purpose-built facility,” Ms Fitzharris said.

Ms Fitzharris said the selected site meant there would be minimal disruption to critical care services during the building phase.

“The advice of the Steering Committee has been critical in determining the optimal location for SPIRE, acknowledging the hospital is an operational site where existing health services are delivered and will need to continue to be delivered while construction is under way,” Ms Fitzharris said.

The new centre would replace administrative buildings that are aged, renewing the northern end of the hospital precinct, while allowing integration with other acute services buildings on the campus.

“ACT Health has already kicked off engagement with our clinical workforce on this important project and I look forward to these discussions and more detailed conversations continuing in 2019 as early design work progresses with clinicians and other stakeholders,” the Minister said.

ACT Health is also looking to expand services in the north, with a planned northside hospital service scoping study, which will explore health service and infrastructure options.

“We know Canberra’s north is rapidly growing, so to future-proof our healthcare system we are looking at how we can better deliver health services so Canberrans receive high-quality healthcare where and when they need it.”

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