Labor will open the election campaign proper with a bang today, making a $650 million promise for a new building at the Canberra Hospital and additional health services for women and children.
The commitment, which it will announce at midday, includes the building of a new Surgical Procedures, Interventional Radiology and Emergency (SPIRE) Centre on the Woden campus, with a new Emergency Department, elective and day surgical spaces, and 1,200 medical, nursing, allied health and support staff.
The centre would begin operation in “around 2022”, according to a Labor Party statement on the election promise.
A re-elected Labor government would also invest in growing the capacity of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, funding new staff and services including more than 107 additional medical professionals. They would provide a new elective child and adolescent orthopaedic service, a specialised adolescent gynaecology service to reduce the need for young women and girls to travel to Sydney for treatment, a new 12-bed child and adolescent mental health unit, 12 new paediatric high-dependency units and four paediatric intensive care beds.
The Canberra Liberals have previously announced their own plan for a new building at the Canberra Hospital as well as for two new hospitals at Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.
The SPIRE Centre would expand the Canberra Hospital’s theatre capacity from 13 to 20 theatres and offer enhanced, state-of-the-art surgical, procedural, critical care and imaging facilities; two inpatient wards with 64 beds for patients requiring overnight care; dedicated theatres for emergency surgery and elective surgery, so that elective surgeries are not delayed or cancelled as a result of emergency surgery; a new coronary care unit for people requiring high level care for heart conditions with 24 beds; a new intensive care unit with 48 bed bays, offering both high dependency and intensive care beds and beds dedicated to paediatric care; and a new day surgery centre with seven procedure rooms designed for patients who can be admitted and discharged within 24 hours.
An expanded new general Emergency Department adjacent to the SPIRE Centre would allow for the current ED to be dedicated to women and children with specialist staff. The two EDs would operate as one, but with separate entrances to provide the best patient and family experience.
Two family violence risk assessment suites would also be built to provide safe and confidential care for women and children who have been victims of violence.
Labor would also establish a new Family Assistance Fund to provide financial support for parents to be with their child when visiting hospitals interstate.
According to the statement, Labor has spent $1 billion on health infrastructure since 2009.
“Unlike the Canberra Liberals’ plan, which is five years’ old, the SPIRE Centre and expanded services for women and children reflect best practice in modern hospital design and delivery,” the document reads.
“Healthcare has always been a priority for ACT Labor. That’s why we are already expanding the emergency department, building a new teaching hospital and will build two new nurse-led Walk in Centres in Gungahlin and Weston Creek to provide free medical advice and treatment for people with minor illness and injury.”