For the next two months, Canberrans can have their say on the design and build of the Canberra Hospital Expansion’s new emergency, surgical and critical healthcare building.
The $500 million ‘SPIRE’ project – a 40,000 square metre expansion at the existing Woden hospital campus – is described as the largest healthcare infrastructure commitment ever undertaken by the ACT Government. Construction will begin in 2021, and is expected to be completed in 2024. The project was first announced in 2016, with a completion date of 2022.
The Government has released initial draft plans for the project, and is seeking input from the wider community on the early design concepts until late February. Documents for feedback include early designs of the building floorplans, new details on entry plazas and green spaces, and designs for a relocated helipad.
The government has promised more operating rooms, more treatment spaces, and more intensive care beds. The emergency department will have 114 treatment bays; ICU treatment spaces will double from 30 to 60; and there will be 22 operating theatres, 148 in-patient beds, and 155 day surgery beds.
Both the Opposition and former Labor Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, however, have argued the proposed expansion is underfunded and too small for the ACT’s growing population, The RiotACT reported in March.
Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith responded that the SPIRE project was based on detailed modelling of demand and would meet the needs of a growing population. The Government would take a Territory-wide approach, possibly including a new hospital in the north, she added.
In June, The Canberra Times reported on senior doctors’ concerns there would not be enough theatres, and that the expansion would already be at capacity when it opened.
Ms Stephen-Smith said public consultation was an important part of delivering a world-class health facility for all Canberrans.
“The new facility will be located at the heart of the campus, and we want a design that will be open and welcoming to all – delivering high-quality public spaces and facilities for patients, staff, and visitors.
“We have been engaging with clinicians, consumers, and local community representatives to ensure their expertise and experience contributes to making the Canberra Hospital the best it can be for staff, patients, and the wider community.
“We are now asking all Canberrans to have their say and tell us what is most important as we take the next steps in delivering a bigger and better hospital for our community,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
David Ghannoum, designer Multiplex’s regional managing director, said that the feedback gained from consultation so far, and public comments over the next few months, would inform the formal development application for the delivery of the new emergency, surgical, and critical healthcare building, due to be lodged in March.
“We have been working hard to ensure that early feedback from consumers and the community already gathered is incorporated into our iterative design process, which is reflected in the draft plans,” Mr Ghannoum said.
“Design elements such as traffic management, building mass, and helipad placement have been carefully considered to minimise impact on surrounding residents and ensure the best amenity for all hospital users.”
Duncan Edghill, Major Projects Canberra chief projects officer, said the Canberra Hospital Expansion represented an investment of more than $600 million to boost Canberra’s healthcare capacity.
“The Canberra Hospital Expansion is the largest investment in health infrastructure in the ACT since self-government. We are committed to delivering not only a great new healthcare facility, but to using the project to help in our economic recovery from COVID-19.
“It will create around 500 jobs for Canberrans during construction, supporting local industry and providing opportunities for local trainees and apprentices,” Mr Edghill said.
Draft plans were available to the public from 11am Friday 18 December. Visit hospitalexpansion.act.gov.au for more information.
The Canberra community has until 24 February 2021, to comment on the proposed design at yoursay.act.gov.au/hospitalexpansion.
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