ACT Labor to invest another $74 million in more hospital beds and to boost emergency department services


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 more than $1 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.

ACT Labor has added more than 260 hospital beds – more than double the 114 ripped out of the system by the previous Liberal Government – and we’ve funded even more beds in 2012-13.  Only ACT Labor increased hospital capacity at five times the national rate.

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 from increasing demand such as our Emergency Departments and providing even more beds in our public hospital system to improve access to services and the flow of patients through our hospitals.

We will build on the investments we have already made by providing more resources, more doctors and nurses, and more beds over the next term of government.  However we also acknowledge that these pressures cannot be dealt with in isolation.

A whole-of-hospital response is required in order to take the pressure off areas such as ED.  Investment in more beds and more health professionals to staff those beds is critical to improving the flow of patients through and out of the ED.  Easing pressure on our ED’s also requires a strong primary health care sector, early intervention, and prevention by reducing risk factors for chronic disease such as obesity.

This commitment is not just about the physical space to house the bed, but it means more doctors, more nurses and more allied health professionals will be employed to care for patients.  But there is more to do.

As part of our commitment to provide a further 170 beds by investing almost $170 million in our public hospital capacity, provide at least $19 million to boost emergency care, and employ more than 500 doctors, nurses and health professionals a re-elected ACT Labor Government will:

Invest an additional $74 million in more hospital beds, and more doctors, nurses and health professionals at the Canberra Hospital to meet our growing need for health care.

Policy costings

How will it work?

Over the next four years, ACT Labor will provide $73.937 million of recurrent funds to boost the number of hospital beds to deliver:

  • More than 40 new general inpatient beds at the Canberra Hospital to meet growing demand for medical and surgical beds;
  • 6 new intensive care beds at the Canberra Hospital;
  • 12 ‘bed equivalents’ for the Hospital in the Home Program at the Canberra Hospital;
  • Expansion of the Emergency Medicine Unit at the Canberra Hospital, with 6 extra beds to provide quicker access to more appropriate services for people who attend the Emergency Department.
  • A further 8 medi-hotel beds; and
  • We will also boost the ED workforce to staff the extra EMU beds and fund 5 ED physicians.

ACT Labor’s plan for more hospital beds and a boost to our ED services at TCH






Total $

TCH Emergency Medicine Unit






Boost to ED doctors






TCH general inpatient*






TCH critical care






Medi-hotel expansion






Hospital in the Home 12 bed equivalents at TCH






Total recurrent expenditure






Note: The beds already announced by ACT Labor have not been included in this table.

*The staging of these beds is subject to change as the hospital campus is redeveloped however the quantum will remain the same.


These commitments are in addition to the extra beds we have already announced including:

  • 19 beds at the newCentenaryHospitalfor Women and Children including a new Maternity Assessment Unit and additional beds for critically ill babies, women giving birth and sick children;
  • an estimated 26 new mental health beds;
  • 69 beds at Calvary Public Hospital including 54 general inpatient beds, an 8 bed Rapid Assessment Unit in the Emergency Department, 2 critical care beds and 5 psychogeriatric beds; and
  • 12 Hospital in the Home ‘bed equivalents’ atCalvaryPublicHospital


Why is this additional investment important?

Demand for health services continues to grow and by boosting the number of beds across our public hospitals, we will target areas of pressure.  We are also changing the way care is delivered, developing new models of care, and trying new approaches to meet the changing needs of our community.

Importantly, the CanberraHospitalservices a region of more than half a million people.  It is the tertiary referral centre for the entire region which makes it the first destination for the majority of trauma cases and emergencies that occur in the ACT and southern NSW region.  ACT Labor’s continued investment will boost our capacity and reduce pressure on our public hospitals.

The 170 beds that we are committing to our public hospital system will increase bed numbers from around 930 at present to more than 1,100 in 2016.


What are the benefits of our investment in TCH beds and emergency services?

ACT Labor will deliver more than 40 new general inpatient beds.  These new beds will add to current capacity to help meet growing demand for hospital care fromCanberraand surrounding regional areas.

The expansion of the Emergency Medicine Unit at Canberra Hospital will deliver an additional 6 beds to provide quicker access to more appropriate services for people who attend the ED.  This service enables people who need longer term assessment and observation to be moved out of the busy ED.

We will also continue our investment in critical care capacity.  This investment at the Canberra Hospital will deliver an additional 6 intensive care beds.

Critical care and high dependency beds are not only used when somebody has a heart attack or an accident, these beds are also very important for the delivery of elective surgery. Increasing demand for elective surgery also means increasing demand for intensive care services.  There is also a growing need for intensive care and high dependency beds as a result of the increasing acuity of post surgical patients and the complexity of treatments and operations available. Effective access to intensive care services saves lives and significantly improves outcomes for many people.

With increasing demands for hospital services, ACT Labor is also committed to boosting the number of ‘bed equivalents’ under the Hospital in the Home program, and will add 12 ‘bed equivalents’ for the Hospital in the Home program at theCanberraHospital.

This is an inpatient service providing acute hospital substitution for patients of theCanberraregion.  It enables patients to receive care from nurses in their home and helps take the pressure off our hospital campus by improving the flow of patients through our hospital and enabling patients to go home and be treated in a familiar environment, where clinically appropriate.

ACT Labor will provide funding for another 8 Medi-hotel beds as part of our Health Infrastructure Plan.  It will provide accommodation for patients who need to be close to hospital.  Medi-hotel beds can provide a less clinical atmosphere for patients to recover, and are particularly important given our regional health care role.  They also free up beds within the main hospital for patients who really need them. This has a positive effect on both patient recovery and waiting times.

Only ACT Labor can be trusted to continue to deliver the increase in capacity that our public hospitals need to meet the growing demand for hospital services.