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$800m hospital tower put on hold

Construction of the Canberra Hospital's new $800 million ''heart'' could be put on hold while the ACT government focuses on opening more hospital beds in north Canberra.

Chief Minister and Health Minister Katy Gallagher said she had frozen $41 million budgeted for the design work of a new block to replace the 10-storey tower at the Canberra Hospital.

But dozens of extra public beds could be opened at Calvary Hospital in Bruce after administrative staff were moved off-site.

Ms Gallagher had also called a halt on plans for a new sterilisation facility at the hospital after being advised of a potential multimillion-dollar budget blow-out.

In response to questions from Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson during an Assembly committee hearing, Ms Gallagher said she was considering whether design work on the new Canberra Hospital tower should go ahead.

She said it might be more appropriate for the government to focus on expanding services at Calvary Hospital and constructing the new 200-bed sub-acute hospital planned at the University of Canberra.

She said she had delayed the tower project because she was not convinced it should go ahead at this point in time.

The new tower block would be home to some of the most important parts of the Canberra Hospital.

"This is the biggest phase of the redevelopment,'' Ms Gallagher said.

''It is the wards, the operating theatres, the intensive care unit. Replacing the existing tower block will be the new state-of-the-art tower block.''

Outside the committee room, she said the new block would have to be built eventually but there might be more immediate priorities for allocations from a limited capital works budget.

"In a sense it will be easier to have more beds go to Calvary and the northside hospital before we focus on working on areas of core services at a tertiary hospital,'' she said.

Beginning work on the new tower would hit the government's budget bottom line by $90 million because the value of the old building would have to be written down.

If the tower block project was delayed, a new emergency department would have to be built.

A final decision would need to be made on whether to delay the project before the budget was brought down in June.

Health Directorate infrastructure chief Grant Carey-Ide said more ward space had been created at Calvary by moving some administrative staff away from the site. Other staff from Calvary and the Canberra Hospital had moved to the old emergency services headquarters site at Curtin.

"We have been able to free up space for approximately 50 beds at Calvary Hospital because we supported the relocation of some 80 administrative staff from the main hospital campus to a facility on Thynne Street at Bruce,'' Mr Carey-Ide said.

All of Calvary's private wards are due to be taken over by the public system within five years. A new private hospital is planned for the Calvary campus.

Ms Gallagher told the committee she had halted work on the new sterilisation facility after being advised the $18 million budget could blow out to $25 million.

"Not good enough,'' she said.

The project was being reviewed and it was possible sterilisation services would remain in Mitchell.

16 comments so far

  • Yeh but she didn't even blink at $420 million for a new Legislative Assembly building, they all wanted that to go ahead.

    Commenter
    WotTha?????
    Date and time
    March 15, 2013, 1:06PM
    • So a Church run facility at Calvary gets preference to the Canberra Hospital? Something wrong there.

      Commenter
      Steve
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 1:14PM
      • Probably saving the money for the financial and finish date blowout that "IS" going to be the Majura Rd project.

        Commenter
        MIKE the HAMMER
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        March 15, 2013, 1:33PM
        • Was this not an election promise ? But why should I be surprised, sounds like a massive budget blowout coming to me, there only hope now is Quadrupling our rates, Struggling are we Mr Barr ???.

          Commenter
          Martin Says
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          March 15, 2013, 2:31PM
          • And Barr wanted to build a $650 Million dollar office block and Ministerial wing as well as a 200-300 Million dollar stadium and subsidise flights to NZ, GWS, brumbies and raiders. Who does he expect to pay for it. YOU.

            @MIKE the HAMMER too right, there is already a road running parallel to majura road which has been used for years as a bypass for trucks.

            And now they want 35 Politicians in the ACT !!!

            And the 100 PARTY went down like the TITANIC.

            Commenter
            stoney
            Date and time
            March 15, 2013, 8:34PM
        • After wasting $3 million on the failed "The Big Day Out", what's another $800 million for an essential service?? I'd be interested to know if this was an election promise or not?

          Commenter
          Adzz
          Location
          Canberra, Australia
          Date and time
          March 15, 2013, 2:36PM
          • "the value of the old tower would have to be written down".... hmmm, its an "asset" is it? Really? A public resource is an asset? Its value can be somehow realised?

            Since WHEN does the government PRETEND to account like a real business? If it did was, it would be bankrupted by 4pm this afternoon.

            It is indeed foul when they attempt to use business words and terms. It gives the the air of credibility when it simply does not exist.

            Commenter
            evanism
            Date and time
            March 15, 2013, 2:36PM
            • But they will build light rail at any cost, because it was extorted out of them by Shane and The Greens..

              Commenter
              Economist
              Date and time
              March 15, 2013, 6:25PM
              • Mr / Ms Economist, you have nailed it, Shane and his ACT Green Labor consortium.

                Commenter
                OLD DOG
                Location
                ACT
                Date and time
                March 16, 2013, 9:03AM
              • Correct Economist, Shane has the reins.

                Commenter
                OLD DOG
                Location
                ACT
                Date and time
                March 16, 2013, 6:45PM

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