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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Temporary ICU beds to boost hospital capacity

Canberra Hospital will open eight new temporary beds in its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) next year, after ACT and Federal Government negotiations brought forward funding from the 2024 budget.

The eight new beds will temporarily increase ICU capacity to 39, until the completion of the Canberra Hospital expansion doubles capacity in 2024 and the eight beds will be repurposed.

Federal Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said it was a “significant” expansion aimed at increasing health services to the city as its population grows.

“This is important to Canberra, but it’s very important to the region as well,” he said.

“As the city grows, we need that greater capacity.”

Senator Seselja said the new beds were part of the previously announced $68 million health package for Canberra, which included funding for mental health and drug and alcohol support services.

ACT Health Minister Rachael Stephen-Smith said it had been “really great” to negotiate with Commonwealth Health Minister Greg Hunt and bring forward money initially scheduled for 2023.

“We negotiated to bring this money forward to ensure we could deliver these beds in a timely way so we can maintain our capacity as our community grows,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

She said there had been additional commitments from the Commonwealth Government including:

  • $10 million refurbishment for a 10-bed mental health unit.
  • $4.5 million for a purpose-built facility in Narrabundah for Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service to provide dental, social, and holistic support.
  • $1 million for “smoother discharge support” and better patient flow at Canberra Hospital.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government was in the process of clinical consultation to define the needs of the Canberra Hospital design for the next 20 years and whichever government won the election would continue the consultation into the community.

A hospital spokesperson said the eight new temporary beds would be sufficient in the short term.

“I think the eight beds will see us well into the expansion over the road,” the spokesperson said.

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