The Canberra Hospital will get a $112 million cash boost as part of this year’s ACT Budget. (Supplied: ACT Health)
Waiting to exhale: This two-year-old can’t breathe properly but can’t see a specialist in Canberra
The troubled Canberra Hospital is set for a major cash injection, with a dozen doctors, 60 nurses and up to 80 beds to be added in the coming years.
The ACT Government will spend $112 million in tomorrow’s budget on “core hospital services” across its emergency department, intensive care unit and surgeries.
“This investment will give greater flexibility … to put more resources into emergency and critical care, more surgeries and more beds,” Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said.
Ms Fitzharris has faced criticism over lengthy wait times at the Canberra Hospital’s (TCH) emergency department, with recent figures released under freedom of information laws showing less than half of patients are seen on time.
The investment will also aim to cut down on the elective surgery waiting list, which has been similarly plagued with extended wait times.
“This will enable ACT Health to plan for the delivery of 14,000 elective surgeries, an additional 1,000 surgeries every year,” Ms Fitzharris said.
Ms Fitzharris said the extra bed capacity was “flexible”, with officials able to increase or drop numbers depending on demand.
“For example, 72 more beds [will be] available in the 2018 winter season, almost double the number available last year,” she said.
“The ACT is now the healthcare hub for a region of over 1 million people, and that calls for a sustainable step in our our investment in frontline staff and health services.”
Funding no magic bullet to hospital’s issues: Opposition
Opposition health spokeswoman Vicki Dunne welcomed the funding but said the Government needed to be held accountable for its promises.
“We need to be able to have measures to show that this money is actually working for the people of the ACT,” Ms Dunne said.
“There’s no point just throwing money at the problem — the Government has been doing that for a very long time.”
Ms Dunne also questioned the Government’s ability to recruit the additional staff given the hospital’s reported problems with bullying.
“We will always have trouble to recruit new staff while ever we have a toxic culture at the hospital,” she said.