Exciting step forward as sites identified for new North Canberra Hospital

Everyone has an interest in Health – whether you’re trying to stay healthy, managing a health condition, or caring for a loved one who's unwell. That’s why it's so important that we continue to invest in our public health services and plan new, contemporary facilities that enable our dedicated health workforce to deliver the best possible care – care that is appropriate for the 21st century.

Some of our health facilities are now a bit tired, others don’t suit the latest ways of providing health care. In response to this, we have invested upwards of $600 million in rebuilding our health and hospital system. There’s more to come on our Health Infrastructure Program (watch this space), but did you know that right now we’re building a dedicated Women’s and Children’s Hospital, a Cancer Centre, a new adult mental health unit, and new community health centres in Belconnen and Gungahlin? No other ACT Government has ever delivered this magnitude of investments in our health system.

It certainly takes time to see the vision become a reality – from the initial idea, through to the planning stages, the design, community engagement and finally construction, but ultimately our community will enjoy state of the art, high-tech facilities that are more comfortable.

The next step is a new sub-acute hospital in Canberra’s north. This hospital won’t replicate all the services offered at Calvary Public Hospital or Canberra Hospital, but will instead provide what’s known as ‘sub-acute’ care – these are the hospital services that help improve a patient’s quality of life or mobility, perhaps following surgery, or involving rehabilitation. For the first time, the ACT will have a dedicated, specialised hospital for these services without the pressure created by emergency care needs. This will also allow us to move some services out of our two ‘acute’ hospitals, freeing up beds and giving us the space to expand services there. When it’s built, the ACT will have a network of three hospitals, each with clearly delineated roles.

I was excited today to see our planning take another step forward. Today I released an options paper on possible sites for this new hospital and toured one of the sites (SEE PHOTO) – the University of Canberra at Bruce with Vice Chancellor Stephen Parker. The Government has been working hard to identify possible sites for the hospital and has narrowed the search down to four options – Calvary Hospital, UC, Gungahlin Town Centre, Block 12 Section 78 Nicholls. These sites have been assessed against a range of criteria including size, topography, environment and heritage, access to facilities such as other hospitals, transport, compatibility with the Territory Plan, and opportunity costs. When assessed against the selection criteria, the University of Canberra has been identified as the best site with the main benefits being the available land, the proximity of the site to Calvary Hospital, and the collocation with the Faculty of Health (Nursing and Allied Health) which could assist the ACT with training and recruitment of our workforce as well as provide opportunities for collaboration and research. If the UC site was to be selected, the potential benefits to the University, the Government and the broader community could be significant, by attracting more students to Canberra and providing recruitment and training opportunities for our health workforce.

For me what’s most important, given no government has unlimited resources, is to ensure that the investments we make deliver broader economic benefits to the Canberra community – beyond those that come from constructing a building. By pusuing collaborations with business, industry and the education sector we can continue to work towards delivering a truly strong knowledge-based city.

The next steps for the new hospital involve completing environmental studies on the sites, the design, services planning, and financing options, prior to any final decision being taken by the Government. If you’re interested in having a look at the report, jump on to the Health website www.health.act.gov.au/northsidehospital