Page 506 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Again, I reject the premise of the question. I do not believe that any data is being withheld from me or from cabinet. As I have previously indicated, I get regular updates. I meet with officials—it used to be once every morning—to get a daily update, Monday to Friday. It is now three times a week. Cabinet is provided with a detailed epidemiological update every single week. I believe that we are getting all of the information that we need from our health directorate and all of the information that we ask for in order to manage the pandemic. I think the response that Canberrans have made to the pandemic and the response that the government has had to the pandemic demonstrate just how successful ACT health has been in this work.

Canberra Hospital—intensive care unit

DR PATERSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, can you please provide an update on the expansion of the intensive care unit at Canberra Hospital, and how this will benefit the community?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Dr Paterson for the question. This week the expansion of the intensive care unit at Canberra Hospital has opened, adding more beds to our intensive care capacity here in the territory. The Canberra Hospital ICU treats around 2,200 patients annually, providing around-the-clock care for critically ill patients. These additional ICU beds will ensure Canberrans and those in the surrounding areas have access to life-saving care, acute medical treatment and intensive care monitoring as our region’s population continues to grow.

The ICU expansion includes eight new bed spaces that contain state-of-the-art hospital beds with customisable features to prevent pressure injuries and promote early mobility for patients. The new spaces include ceiling-mounted medical pendants with incorporated patient lifters that provide more flexibility to safely care for patients. The ICU expansion also includes a family room with kitchenette and a bathroom for visitor use when they are seeing a loved one in the unit.

These kinds of physical infrastructure improvements ensure that we can get the most from our hospital spaces to not only improve workflows but also improve patient outcomes and the experience of visitors in the ICU, which we know is often quite a stressful place when you have a loved one in there.

The expansion of the ICU is not just about physical spaces or beds, though. The ACT government has invested in increased staffing, including nurses, doctors and allied health professionals, to bring the expansion online in a staged way in order to meet increasing demand. In the 2021-22 budget, we invested more than $28 million to grow our ICU capacity at Canberra Hospital year on year. This additional ICU capacity ensures patients and families can continue to access critical care services close to home.

DR PATERSON: Minister, what impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the ICU, and what lessons from the pandemic have been incorporated into the ICU expansion?

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