Future-proofing Canberra’s health and hospital services


The 2019-20 ACT Budget delivers major new investment in infrastructure and services to future-proof our health system and help meet the healthcare needs of the entire Canberra region into the coming decade.

Growing health infrastructure

We are investing almost $1 billion in new and upgraded health infrastructure for Canberra over the next five years.

At the Canberra Hospital campus, the major new Surgical Procedures, Interventional Radiology and Emergency (SPIRE) Centre will provide state-of-the-art critical care to meet the acute health care needs of our region into the future.

The SPIRE Centre will deliver 114 Emergency Department treatment spaces – 39 more than are currently available at the Canberra Hospital, as well as 60 ICU beds – doubling the number currently available.

SPIRE will include four new paediatric ICU beds and a family zone to provide support services for families who have children in the ICU. It will also deliver 22 new state-of-the-art operating theatres – nine more than are currently available, including hybrid theatres and interventional radiology theatres that will support the most advanced medical technology and techniques in caring for Canberrans.

In addition to SPIRE, we are investing in more beds across Canberra Health Services to help reduce waiting times and ensure that Canberrans receive the critical care they need, when the need it. This will include resourcing four additional intensive care unit beds and 12 beds for inpatient services in medicine, surgery and aged care.

We are also significantly expanding the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children which is co-located with Canberra Hospital, to support women and young people needing maternity services and other specialist care.

We will boost elective surgery at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce by expanding theatres at the hospital, and add more doctors and nurses to staff the new Emergency Department when the expansion we delivered through last year’s Budget is complete.

We are building a new Walk-in Centre in Dickson to provide faster access to care for minor injury and illness for people living and working in Canberra’s Inner North. This will bring Canberra’s network of Walk-In Centres to five across Gungahlin, Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and now Dickson.

More staff and stronger health services

The 2019 Budget will invest in more services and specialists to help keep people out of hospital, reduce waiting times, remove people from waiting lists and give Canberrans access to more timely care. This includes a new program to develop better integrated pathways and improve health outcomes for people with complex and ongoing chronic health conditions, which will be co-designed with general practitioners.

We will deliver more doctors at the Canberra Hospital’s Emergency Department to help reduce waiting times and respond to increasing demand. We are delivering another Interventional Radiology suite to provide state of the art care for cancer and stroke patients and funding new and upgraded MRIs. We are also boosting pharmacy services so that people who are treated at the Canberra Hospital can get access to their medications more quickly and easily.

Through the Budget we will make a significant investment in specialist services supporting Canberrans with chronic and ongoing conditions. This includes expanded services for childhood and gestational diabetes, dermatology, rheumatology and the Fracture Clinic at the Canberra Hospital, as well as an expansion of the urology service at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. We will also deliver a new and simpler model to access maternity services, further boosting our support for expectant mums and families.

We will also make significant investments in medical and health research and in new technology to support patients and our workforce, including the development of a Digital Health Record to support Canberrans care in our public health system.

The ACT Government is committed to delivering a strong public health system with a positive work culture for all our employees. We will make a substantial investment to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review into the Workplace Culture within ACT Public Health Services, promoting a healthier culture, reducing inappropriate workplace behaviour and re-engaging staff. We will also invest in funding to implement the Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture Strategy.

More mental health care for Canberrans

The 2019 Budget includes more support for mental health services and people experiencing mental illness so they can get access to a better range of treatment options.

We will deliver more staff resources for the Adult Mental Health Unit at Canberra Hospital to enable a more comprehensive psychosocial approach to treatment, care and support for patients. This investment will also support workforce development and improved clinical care standards.

We will expand the Mental Health Consultation Liaison Service to operate seven days a week, providing more support for people with mental illness at Canberra Hospital with a particular focus on people admitted into medical and surgical wards and those presenting to the Emergency Department.

And we will establish an Eating Disorders Specialist Clinical Hub and a community-based intervention support service to expand the range of eating disorder services available in the ACT and make these available to more Canberrans.

Through the Budget we will also start work on designing a Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) model which will enable our first responders to provide better support for people experiencing acute mental health incidents. This will bring together police, ambulance paramedics and mental health clinicians to support the safe assessment and treatment of people experiencing acute mental health episodes without the need for admission to hospital.

More support for people overcoming addiction

In response to community feedback about growing areas of need across Canberra’s health services, we will step up our investment in drug and alcohol services to help tackle addiction and see more people get the support they need.

We will establish a new opioid maintenance treatment clinic in Canberra’s north. This will deliver more timely access to treatment for those living on the northside to help them engage with the program. We will also undertake a feasibility study and needs assessment for a medically supervised injecting facility in the ACT and continue to support Canberrans whose drug and alcohol use is a factor in their involvement in the criminal justice system.

We will continue to partner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to develop a culturally appropriate residential service supporting drug and alcohol rehabilitation for people in the ACT. This future service will be designed to complement existing services.

We will also recruit new specialised nursing staff to enhance drug and alcohol services at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. This will expand the existing opiate replacement treatment service and provide a range of additional drug and alcohol services. This will enable services to be delivered seven days a week so that we can better support detainees to deal with their addiction issues while they are in custody.

Through the 2019-20 ACT Budget we are building a better healthcare system that can meet the needs of our growing community today and in the years to come – delivering a healthier future for all Canberrans.


Media contact: Kaarin Dynon     T (02) 6205 2775 M 0422 772 215 kaarin.dynon@act.gov.au