Page 508 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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The ICU expansion brings our Canberra Hospital capacity to 39 beds, and will further enhance our current capacity so that we can continue to deliver life-saving treatment and care to our community for many years to come. This grows our ICU capacity in line with the move towards the 60-bed ICU that is being constructed in the state-of-the-art critical services building, as part of the $624 million Canberra Hospital expansion—the biggest investment in health infrastructure since self-government.

The implementation of the master plan will, of course, progressively transform the Canberra Hospital campus over a number of stages and consider how best to utilise critical buildings. This will include the optimal use of our existing ICU as our capacity across the campus continues to increase and we futureproof the Canberra Hospital for our growing community.

ACT Health—Chief Health Officer

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, today’s damaging reports reveal the breakdown in the relationship between you and the ACT’s Chief Health Officer. How can Canberrans have confidence in your government’s handling of the COVID crisis, given the breakdown of your relationship with the Chief Health Officer?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I am not even going to thank Mrs Kikkert for that question. It is ridiculous. There is no breakdown in the relationship between me and the Chief Health Officer.

MRS KIKKERT: Do you still have confidence in the information provided by the Health Directorate?


MS LEE: Minister, why is either the Chief Health Officer or ACT Health and its officials blocking your requests for COVID information to be made public?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: It would be nice if the opposition had been able to listen to the earlier answers and were agile enough to adjust their questions! As I said to Ms Lee in response to one of her earlier questions, there are often discussions between me or my office and the Health Directorate about how best to present information to the community so that it is accurate and so that we are providing information that makes sense, that is not misleading and that also does not affect the privacy of individuals.

For example, when we provided the information in relation to the 25 ICU patients who had been in ICU between 1 January and 30 January—information that was provided to the media—that is a very different proposition to providing information in relation to the between one and four people who might be in the intensive care unit at any period in time.

I think it really is important to explain and to understand that difference, because the

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