ACT Labor to invest $80 million to provide 5,000 more operations


On average, Canberrans are the best educated, best paid and healthiest people in Australia.    ACT Labor is providing more doctors, more nurses and more beds every year across both our public hospitals.

Right now ACT Labor is investing $1.3 billion each year to make our health system even stronger and deliver health care where and when it’s needed.

We have delivered more operating theatres, more intensive care and critical care beds, more nurses, doctors and support staff, and more general inpatient beds on the wards in order to provide more surgery to Canberrans.

That’s why consistent and targeted investment right across our hospitals is necessary and only ACT Labor has this record of investment in our hospital system.

We know there are areas of pressure in our hospitals where demand is outstripping population growth.  ACT Labor is committed to targeting areas under pressure such as our Emergency Departments and elective surgery in order to improve access to services.

ACT Labor has delivered record levels of elective surgery but there’s more work to do with demand for surgery continuing to grow.


If re-elected, ACT Labor will invest $80 million to meet the growing demand for elective surgery.

Our commitment will deliver 5,000 more operations over the next four years.  This includes a commitment to provide 30 more Canberrans with cochlear implants.

ACT Labor will also make available $2 million in ‘reward’ funding for hospitals who meet their targets ahead of schedule.

This is on top of the 45,000 operations we already planned to provide making a total of 50,000 operations over the next four years.


Policy costings

ACT Labor delivering more to meet increased demand for health care

Recurrent funding






Elective Surgery






Elective surgery reward funding












How will it work?

An ACT Labor Government will provide the majority of these operations at Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital but a portion of these will also be provided as part of our arrangements with Queanbeyan Hospital and other local private providers.

Utilising spare capacity in the private sector will continue to be one element of our strategy to maintain the high levels of surgery in recent years, particularly in the specialties of Ear, Nose and Throat surgery, Urology and Orthopaedic surgery.  If hospitals meet their targets ahead of schedule, ACT Labor will make available $2 million in ‘reward’ funding over four years to ensure we meet this commitment.

As part of this commitment, we will give 30 more Canberrans the chance to receive cochlear implants.

By quarantining some of the funds for 30 cochlear implants, we will be giving more Canberrans the chance to hear sound, some for the first time.  Cochlear implants are medical devices implanted into the head behind the ear giving profoundly deaf adults and children a chance to hear.

Successful cochlear implants provide young children with the opportunity to develop communication, speech and language and keep up with their peers.  This surgery has an enormous impact on people’s lives.

This additional investment in surgery, coupled with the investments we have already made in beds, theatres, nurses and doctors, will help us improve waiting times for surgery.


Why is a whole-of-hospital response important?

Increasing elective surgery throughput is not just about funding extra operations. Comparable increases are required in intensive care and critical care services, operating theatres, doctors, nurses and health professionals, and beds on the wards.

That’s why ACT Labor has been and will continue to invest in our entire health system, as well as make targeted investment in ‘pressure’ areas.  We will do this to ensure our health system continues to meet the needs and expectations of our community and that of our region and to increase access to health services such as elective surgery.


What has ACT Labor delivered in elective surgery?

Each year ACT Labor has invested more in elective surgery to enable more Canberrans to get their operations.

The ACT Labor Government has also been working closely with the private sector and NSW to boost the number of operations we provide.  We now have ACT surgeons operating at the under-utilised Queanbeyan Hospital and have delivered 524 surgeries in partnership with local private hospitals.

A record 11,336 people had their operations in 2010-11.  On the Liberals watch, only 6800 elective surgery procedures were provided. That’s a 65% increase in operations despite only a 16% increase in population.

But there’s more work to do with demand for surgery continuing to grow steadily. We also have significant demand for our health services from across the border with a third of our elective surgery patients coming from NSW.  ACT Labor is committed to further improving access to elective surgery in the Territory.


Why is more investment in elective surgery important?

Demand for elective surgery is growing faster than the growth in population and the general growth in demand for services.  The ACT also has an ageing population and as we age, we have increasing demands on health services such as elective surgery. The demand for operations such as hip and knee replacements, and cataract removals is growing between 4 and 5%.

ACT Labor wants to see more Canberrans have their operations sooner. This boost to elective surgery will help us achieve this goal and reduce the number of people on our waiting list.  While 97% of the most urgent Category 1 patients and almost 90% of Category 3 patients are seen on time, these efforts will help to improve the number of Category 2 patients being admitted within recommended timeframes.

Only ACT Labor can deliver on this challenge because only ACT Labor is committed to building a stronger public health system for all Canberrans.


Over the next term, ACT Labor will meet the national targets for elective surgery

ACT Labor is committed to the National Health Reform Agreement over the next term of Government.  In addition to providing record levels of surgery, over the past two years we have also halved the number of people waiting too long for surgery and cut our total elective surgery waiting list by 25%.  Through consistent and targeted efforts, we are making significant inroads but there is more to do and we are committed to doing even better.

The National Health Reform Agreement sets ambitious targets for access to public health services. We are working hard to achieve these targets.

The National Elective Surgery Targets (NEST) are made up of several components aimed at ensuring timely access to surgery whilst reducing the number of patients waiting beyond clinically recommended timeframes. ACT public hospitals are currently meeting or on track to meet the majority of its targets in 2012 and has identified Category two patients as the area requiring further attention.