Labor to establish a dedicated service for children attending the Emergency Department

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

Every year we are investing record levels of funding in our community, building a stronger local health system, investing in better schools and teachers, maintaining a strong local economy and creating more local jobs than ever before.

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.

Despite our status as one of the healthiest communities in the country, each year almost a third of Canberrans will use our Emergency Departments (EDs) or well over 100,000 presentations. Of those presentations, about 25 percent involve children.

ACT Labor wants to deliver a faster service for children and their families presenting to the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department and enhance their experience.

If re-elected ACT Labor, in partnership with the Federal Labor Government, will provide $5.8 million towards the establishment of a dedicated service for children in the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department (paediatric stream).

We will kick start this new paediatric response by providing ongoing funding for a Paediatric Clinical Nurse Consultant position and construct a dedicated waiting and triage area for children and their families.

Policy Costings

ACT Labor will provide $879,000 over four years to add a Paediatric Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC) position to our ED.  The Federal Labor Government has agreed to provide a re-elected ACT Labor Government with up to $5 million in capital funding to construct a dedicated paediatric waiting and triage area.

ACT Labor’s plan to establish a dedicated children’s service in our Emergency Department






Total $

Paediatric CNC






Federal funding (capital)






Total costs






How will it work?

This capital funding will enable us to refurbish an area adjacent to the existing Emergency Department at Canberra Hospital to create a more suitable, family friendly waiting, triage and treatment areas.

In addition to improvements to the physical environment, ACT Labor wants to ensure sick children are treated and discharged, or admitted to a hospital ward, as quickly as possible.  By adding a Paediatric Clinical Nurse Consultant position we will be taking the first steps towards developing a paediatric stream to improve the flow of children into, through and out of the ED.

This year approximately 25% of our presentations have been children.  The introduction of paediatric streaming in ED will provide early identification of paediatric patients who are waiting for care and the quick transfer of those patients to the appropriate services in the new Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.  These are the first steps towards establishing a genuine paediatric stream.


Why is it important?

There is no doubt emergency departments everywhere are under pressure as a result of a growing, ageing and ailing population and Canberra is no different.  We continue to see growth in demand for emergency care with a quarter of this demand has been coming from children this year.

We know that our EDs are providing high quality health care and saving lives every day.  At times of peak demand, patients who can safely wait, may have to wait a little longer. But we know that once seen, patient satisfaction with the care they receive is high.

ACT Labor also recognises that having a sick child can be very distressing for parents and coming to hospital can be a scary experience for some children.  We want to ensure waiting, triage and treatment areas are the best they can be for sick children and their families and that the process is as quick and easy as possible.

This funding will help improve the services provided to children and their families. Whilst the ACT’s small size does not enable us to support and safely staff a stand alone paediatric Emergency Department as can some of the larger metropolitan centres, the ACT believes providing an enhanced paediatric response within our existing ED would improve the quality of the service provided to Canberra families.

ACT Labor also recognises that reducing pressure on our emergency departments requires a multi-faceted response which includes more beds right across the hospital system, better primary health care, a more preventative health focus, and new services such as the Walk-in Centre and our enhanced community health centres.  That’s why we are targeting all of these areas through increased investment and have committed to funding more than 170 new beds over the next term of Government.  This includes 19 extra beds for the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children of which five will be dedicated paediatric inpatient and day-surgery beds.

These measures are all designed to improve the quality of the service ACT Labor is already providing to Canberrans.

ACT Labor is building a better health system by increasing hospital capacity, improving our health infrastructure, increasing and supporting our workforce, creating a world class community health network and focusing on creating a healthy community.