14 March 2022

Libs criticise hospital construction 'stunts' as healthcare issues show no signs of abating

| Lottie Twyford
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Canberra Hospital Expansion Project director Martin Little and Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith in front of construction site

Canberra Hospital Expansion Project director Martin Little and Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith in front of the major construction site. Photo: ACT Government.

The Canberra Liberals have criticised what they call ‘stunts’ around the construction of the $624 million Canberra Hospital expansion.

Last week Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith announced the ‘next phase’ of the major project as the first of two cranes went up at the site.

To get the community involved with the project – which has been plagued by delays – the government is running a ‘name the crane’ competition.

Students from nearby Garran Primary School have been asked to shortlist ten names which the public will be able to vote on later this month through the YourSay website.

READ ALSO Master Plan gives Canberra Hospital breathing space and room to grow

Suggestions have included ‘Haul McCartney’ and ‘Taylor Lift’ although Ms Stephen-Smith wasn’t impressed with ‘Craney McCraneface’. “We will probably be a bit more sophisticated than that,” she said.

Artwork from the school’s year one class is also being featured on fences around the project site.

Opposition spokesperson for health Leanne Castley was less than impressed, however. She said this kind of announcement from the government showed it was “more focused on stunts than on fixing a health system in crisis”.

“The [ACT Government] insults Canberrans with its gimmicks while Canberrans languish on waiting lists and plead for better healthcare,” Ms Castley claimed.

Leanne Castley seated at desk

Opposition spokesperson for health Leanne Castley called the government’s crane-naming competition a ‘stunt’. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Labor committed to the major expansion of the Canberra Hospital at the 2016 election and intended to finish in 2022. However, its completion date has been pushed back to 2024.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman called in the $600 million project to keep it on schedule although he was unable to say how much time his intervention would save last year.

“Canberra’s health system is in crisis; the hospital expansion has been plagued by delays and is two years overdue, we have the longest emergency department wait times in the country,” Ms Castley said. “Canberra’s nurses and doctors are doing the best they can but the government has run down our health system and Canberrans are suffering because of it.”

The ACT’s public hospital wait times are consistently the worst in the country.

But Ms Stephen-Smith said she viewed the installation of the first crane as a symbol of the “work that lies ahead and of the massive effort” it had taken to get the project to this point.

Demolition work and excavation on the site of the future critical services building has already been underway since November last year.

“I’m very, very happy to be here celebrating this milestone,” Ms Stephen-Smith said. “The critical services building will be a cornerstone of Canberra’s health service and something that will really shape the future of Canberra Hospital to come, and is really built into the master plan as well.”

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The critical services building is the largest part of the hospital expansion.

It will increase the capacity and ‘flow’ of the emergency department as well as the intensive care unit.

It’s expected the construction of the building will take at least the rest of this year and that could extend into 2023, Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Major Projects Canberra chief projects officer Duncan Edghill said the cranes would likely be part of the skyline for the next two years as work goes on.

Mr Edghill said orders for supplies and equipment would be made well in advance to try and combat any supply issues, which are currently plaguing the construction industry.

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HiddenDragon6:39 pm 15 Mar 22

“To get the community involved with the project – which has been plagued by delays – the government is running a ‘name the crane’ competition.”

Towering Fiasco?

Wuthering Plights??

Wrong Kong???

The Liberal Federal Government did give six million dollars some years back to be spent on the Canberra Hospital. Well that was diverted to build a six million dollar child playground at Moncrieff to assist Leigh with the election.

If you are going to make accusations like that Ray Zak you should back them up! Maybe you should cast your mind back to the blatant pork barreling the LNP did sports rorting in marginal seats during the last election and Friedenberg’s recent backdown on the unwanted carparks in his electorate. But they are just a few of the rorts from this government!

Ms Castley as the newly minted opposition spokesperson on health may like to come up with a bit more on how the Libs will meet the ACTs health challenges into the future should her side win government. I am seriously troubled with the current Liberals. Their constant sniping, without offering themselves as credible alternatives after 21 years in opposition! It is easy to cherry pick what suits you but Canberrans are a bit smarter than what you give them credit for. It isn’t only hospital ED’s. The Libs went to the last election promising to freeze rates and grow the pie (remember that) without offering any details on how they were going to pay for essential services like health and education. I don’t even want to reflect on how badly that turned out to be! For Ms Castley’s benefit, the ACT government hasn’t done too badly getting us through the worst stages of the pandemic. No thanks to NSW! This is despite Ms Castley and the rest of the Libs constantly trying to find fault and trash the ACTs health system. Because of the governments best efforts Canberrans are now the most highly vaccinated people in the country. In the government’s 2021-22 Budget the government has also committed to invest over $90 million to continue the COVID-19 public health response. The government has also committed to spending more than $500 million in additional funding over four years to boost our public health services. How good is that!! And guess what, the Libs voted against it! Maybe the Liberals could lobby Zed for the Liberals to commit more funding to health rather than the current pitiful amount. Good luck with that!

Capital Retro9:21 am 15 Mar 22

I phoned TCH yesterday to make a complaint on behalf of a relative who has been stuck in TCH awaiting surgery after two scheduled appointments had been cancelled.

Believe it or not, the “complaints/consumer concerns” office was closed because of the Canberra Day public holiday.

There are also major problems with TCH accessing patient records held at Calvary. Everyone “knows nothing” or blames someone else or the computer.

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