Construction begins on intensive care unit expansion

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Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith.

THE $13.5 million expansion of the Canberra Hospital’s intensive care unit is underway and will be complete by the end of the year, according to ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith. 

Ms Stephen-Smith announced the beginning of the project, which will add 39 new ICU beds, in a press conference this afternoon (March 5), saying: “Additional healthcare workers will be recruited to staff the expanded ICU, providing 24-hour care to some of the most critical patients at Canberra Hospital.”

She said the project, funded through the Commonwealth Community Health and Hospitals Program, has been designed so that construction does not cause disruption to the current operations of the ICU.

When asked if the expansion of the ICU was just a “bandaid solution” to an emergency healthcare system under pressure, Ms Stephen-Smith said it was not.

However, the announcement comes only months after the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed that 52 per cent of patients in the ACT, during 2019/20, were not seen on time in the emergency department, which was double the national average.

The next worse case was in South Australia with 35 per cent while only 19 per cent of patients in NSW were not seen on time.

It also revealed that half of Canberrans attending the emergency department had to wait 44 minutes compared to 17 minutes nationally.

And there was 10 per cent of Canberra patients that had to wait nearly three hours in emergency, which is 75 minutes longer on average across Australia.

Report: ACT health lags behind the nation

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