Canberra needs to more than triple its ICU beds

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Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith

FOLLOWING the release of the federal government’s coronavirus modelling, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said Canberra will need to almost quadruple its intensive care beds here.

The national modelling, which was explained by the Commonwealth’s chief medical officer this afternoon, suggests that Australia is looking to have an ICU of 7000 beds, and of that the Canberra region needs about 170. It currently has 50.

“We currently have 50 intensive care beds in the ACT with ventilators,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“We can pretty much double that in a very short space of time using all the facilities that are available to us on a territory basis, public and private. And then we’ve been doing extra work to ensure that the original amount of 50 can be tripled, and more than that.”

Canberra Health Services CEO Bernadette McDonald said a team of lead clinicians across each of the intensive care sites in Canberra, both public and private, have been working on increasing the ICU bed capacity. 

“We can double by re-purposing different machines and actually expanding into spaces outside of our ICU footprint across all of our organisations and our current ICU’s,” she says.

“Our target number is 170, based on the modelling that has come out nationally. We are looking at ways to expand outside the ICU’s existing footprint. But that will be quite dependent on us accessing the right ventilators to support that increase in ICU capacity.”

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