ACT Labor boosts outpatient and imaging services


On average, Canberrans are the best educated, best paid and healthiest people in Australia.

ACT Labor is building, through its investments in facilities and people, a health system with momentum, creating highly-skilled jobs, delivering new services and harnessing world-leading research.

We are investing record levels in order to increase access to services, target areas under pressure from increasing demand and provide new and innovative services both in hospital and in the community close to where people live.

ACT Labor believes that everyone should be able to access quality health services regardless of their capacity to pay. That is the difference between ACT Labor and the Canberra Liberals. We believe that government’s primary responsibility is to fund the public health system, which is why we continue to invest in our hospitals and community health centres and expand the range of health services available in Canberra.

ACT Labor has worked hard to replace the 114 beds ripped out of the health system by the Canberra Liberals and have in fact gone much further, adding 260 beds to our public hospitals with funding for further beds allocated in the 2012-13 Budget.

ACT Labor will add more than 170 more beds over the next four years employing 500 more nurses, doctors and health professionals.

Demand for outpatient services is growing each year due largely to a growing, ageing and ailing population. There is also increasing demand for imaging services for both inpatients and non-admitted patients. As demand grows, there is more to do to ensure Canberrans can access the care they need when they need it most.

A re-elected ACT Labor Government will provide another $15 million to further improve access to outpatient services, imaging and chronic pain care.

This includes:
  • $10m to increase access to general outpatient services at Canberra Hospital to provide for new treatment options and meet growing demand. This will enable us to employ 12 new nurses and 23 more allied health professionals across a range of specialities;
  • $2.3m for paediatric ophthalmology to reduce the need for young patients to travel interstate and provide pre- and post surgical care. The funding will provide for two nurses and opthamologist;
  • $1.5m to expand the chronic pain management service to support Canberrans living with severe and debilitating pain. We will recruit an additional specialist and two nurses;
  • $1.2m to expand imaging services for both inpatients and outpatients. This will enable us to boost capacity overall and also assist in speeding up imaging services for hospital patients such as those being seen in the emergency department. This funding will provide for additional specialists. It means scans will be reviewed sooner, and patients will move through the hospital more quickly.

Policy costings

  2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2017-18 Total
General outpatient growth $0.988m $2.243m $3.260m $3.792m $10.283m
Paediatric ophthalmology - $0.751m $0.772m $0.793m $2.316m
Chronic pain service - $0.499m $0.513m $0.527m $1.539m
Imaging services - $0.294m $0.302m $0.581m $1.177m
Total $0.988 $3.787 $4.847 $5.693 $15.315m

Why is more investment in outpatient care needed?

There are a range of reasons why people need outpatient services. They may be used by patients who do not need hospitalisation but require review and treatment under the care of a specialist. Pre and post-operative patients and those who have been discharged from hospital after an illness may also use an outpatient clinic. As we treat more people in hospital, the demand for outpatient services will also grow as many patients will require some follow-up after discharge.

More care is being provided today in settings outside the traditional hospital-ward environment. Advances in practices, medicines and equipment now mean that many services that used to require a hospital stay can be managed in an outpatient setting. Outpatient care, where appropriate, is much better for longer term outcomes as the care is provided in a less invasive manner, reducing long term recuperation requirements and reducing the possibility of infection.

ACT Labor also wants to reduce the need for younger ophthalmology patients and their families to have to travel interstate. Although some patients requiring specialist paediatric ophthalmology surgery will still be required to travel to the major metropolitan centres to have their operations, this funding will boost capacity to provide pre and post surgical care.

Several specialties continuing to experience high demand include orthopaedics, ear nose and throat, and urology. Imaging services are also seeing high demand. This additional funding will help meet growing demand for diagnosis, treatment and care.

Our record of new and improved health services

ACT Labor has also been willing to try new ways of delivering health care and to invest in new and innovative models of care.

We have introduced a range of new services never before provided in the ACT including;

  • A new complex eye surgery service and a head and neck trauma service,
  • A Walk-in Centre, a sleep studies laboratory, a state-of-the-art neurosurgery suite with the ability to take brain scans during surgery;
  • A range of smarter e-health technology, a PET/CT imaging service,
  • Step-up step-down mental health services for adults and adolescents;
  • A one-stop shop for rehabilitation and disability support services,
  • A business-hours GP locum service for elderly and housebound residents;
  • An innovative NICUcam webstreaming service allowing families to view their sick infants over the internet if they cannot be at the hospital,
  • Digital mammography, and
  • A Capital Region Retrieval Service for critically ill and seriously injured patients from our wider region.

18 October 2012