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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 February 2016) . . Page.. 429 ..

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Burch for her question and interest in the expansion of the emergency department at the Canberra Hospital. The government has committed to a $23 million program to expand the capacity of our key emergency department by 30 per cent. That work is well underway.

Last month I had the opportunity to officially open the first and largest stage of this five-stage redevelopment of our emergency department at the Canberra Hospital. This provided for five additional beds in a new purpose-built mental health and short stay unit. This is a critically important capacity for the emergency department. We see a significant number of people experiencing the distress of acute mental illness presenting at our emergency department. The previous facilities for short stay mental health patients in the ED were in my view and, I think it would be fair to say, in most people’s view, inadequate.

I am very pleased to say that the new facilities are of a very high standard. They are respectful of the circumstances and difficulties people with mental illness face when they present at the emergency department and they provide a quality environment in which they can receive the care that they need. In addition, we are increasing the overall capacity of the emergency medicine unit. The emergency medicine unit is an important part of the emergency department. Again, we have increased the total number of beds in the emergency medicine unit and that capacity is now operational as well.

This is a challenging project. We have to redevelop and expand the emergency department whilst it continues to operate day to day. I am very pleased to say that so far the project is being delivered on time and within the budget provision. The first stage is now complete. This has been facilitated by the use of 26 prefabricated modules that are being effectively extended out from the existing fabric of the emergency department building and allowing that redevelopment and refurbishment to occur, staff and functions to move into that and then the redevelopment moving into some further areas within the emergency department.

Overall, this redevelopment is going to deliver a 30 per cent increase in the number of beds in our emergency department. That is a very important increase in capacity. It is going to see a substantial refurbishment and realignment of the emergency department as a whole so that work flows within the department are better and so that there is a more logical arrangement of space and activity.

For the first time we will have a dedicated paediatric unit within the emergency department so that families with children, particularly younger children, will be able to be seen in an environment which is separate from the sometimes distressing, difficult and more noisy parts of the emergency department where adults are being seen. That is important for young kids when they are sick and when they need to be at the ED. The last thing they need is some of that other distress that can come from being in the middle of a busy ED.

This is a very important upgrade. I am pleased to say it is on time, it is on track and we are seeing some real improvements in both the capacity and the quality of our emergency department facilities.

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