The Canberra Liberals have promised to build new local public hospitals in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong if they win government next month, but ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher, a former ACT Health Minister and Chief Minister, has expressed concern at the prospect of “fragmenting” emergency services across Canberra.
The two new hospitals would have 24-hour emergency departments with ten beds each plus 12-bed short stay wards and would be staffed by specialist doctors and nurses, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Health Jeremy Hanson said today.
“The Gungahlin Local Public Hospital and the Tuggeranong Local Public Hospital will provide more beds in more locations, alleviate the poor geographic spread of hospital beds in Canberra and help return the ACT’s health system to the best in the nation,” Mr Hanson said.
“At the moment some Gungahlin and Tuggeranong residents have to drive further for emergency hospital services than many residents in regional Australia.”
The Opposition Leader said the Gungahlin Local Public Hospital and the Tuggeranong Local Public Hospital would provide care coordination as well as pharmacy, pathology and imaging services.
“Our northernmost and southernmost regions need these hospitals and they’ll become even more important as our city grows,” Mr Hanson said, adding that the new hospitals were part of the Liberals’ broader plan for health, which included the party’s previously announced $395 million plan to redevelop The Canberra Hospital.
ACT AMA president Steve Robinson told The Canberra Times he had reviewed the proposal yesterday and thought it was a “crackerjack idea”.
“We would definitely support this and we like the thinking behind it,” he told the newspaper.
But Senator Gallagher took to Facebook to warn of the risks associated with running additional emergency departments.
“I have stayed out of local politics since leaving the Chief Minister’s post 20mths ago but I have to say that I am astounded that the AMA would support this proposal,” Senator Gallagher wrote.
“I looked at a similar concept when I was Health Minister and all the advice including from the AMA & every ED doctor I spoke to (and it was a lot of them) told me of the danger to patients and staff of fragmenting emergency treatment across Canberra like this policy would.
“Functioning ED’s and day surgery centres need immediate access to operating theatres and intensive care/ high dependency care facilities & people needing emergency care need to be taken immediately to an acute hospital as soon as possible.”