16 December 2019

Private operators welcome in Canberra Hospital's green, hi-tech future

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Hospital

A 20-year Master Plan is on the way to modernise the Canberra Hospital. Photo: George Tsotsos.

A ‘green’ development approach, hi-tech focus and an ability to attract private investment will be key parts of the Canberra Hospital’s new 20-year Master Plan to be delivered by the middle of next year.

As the hospital gears up for construction of the $500 million Surgical Procedures, International Radiology and Emergency Centre (SPIRE) that is due to start in 2021, the ACT Government has released a tender for a lead design consultant to devise a plan to guide the development of the campus and its relationship with the surrounding areas.

The tender documents list a number of challenges the hospital faces, as well as a framework for the Master Plan that covers four key areas – Health and Wellbeing, Social Value, Future Readiness and Environmental Gain.

Immediate problems include insufficient parking, poor navigation across the campus, not enough discreet patient thoroughfares, exposed walkways and a limited number of outdoor green spaces.

There is no easily identified main entry point to the campus or a central meeting place, and the age, fit-out and condition of wards varies across the campus.

The wards are also not multi-functional, and there is not enough accommodation for carers.

The Masterplan’s aim is to achieve a “functional, collegiate, considered and efficient health campus”, the tender documents say.

“This project will see the Woden campus evolve into a series of interconnected precincts and will help to dissolve the boundaries between clinicians, industry and community.”

The Government envisages the campus will be organised into precincts of service clusters as a cost-efficient way to develop the hospital and to give the community better access across a range of services.

The consultant will have to work within the Government’s climate change strategy, including the transition to zero-emission vehicles, and active travel policies, as well as its sustainability goals.

This includes green buildings that cut energy and water use, a smaller carbon footprint, and minimising the loss of green space, as well as improving walking and cycling paths.

The Master Plan will also cover opportunities for compatible commercial or private operators to deliver health services that support or enhance other services, increase amenity and provide an income stream.

The Government sees the hospital as part of its plans to develop Canberra as a high-growth digital economy, saying new technology will mean a re-think of how health care services and health infrastructure will be delivered.

“Medical solutions technology has the opportunity to create industries, support world-class training and deliver world-class care to the community whilst also creating new industries for the local workforce,” the document says.

This includes robotics and artificial intelligence.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the Master Plan would build on work done by the ACT Health Directorate over the last four months and was another step in the modernisation of the Canberra Hospital.

She said it would focus on the campus but also consider the hospital as part of a broader precinct, particularly with regard to traffic and parking issues.

“We want our hospital campus to contribute to the health and wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors and to be future-ready – embracing technological change and environmental sustainability,” she said.

As well as SPIRE, the hospital will also see a $50.05 million expansion to the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children; a new Australian National University Medical School; three new demountable office accommodation buildings; as well as other infrastructure upgrade programs totalling some $186 million.

Tenders for the design consultant will be open until 28 November 2019 with the Master Plan expected to be completed by mid-2020.

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