Labor vows $63m Calvary rebirth
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Labor vows $63m Calvary rebirth

ACT Labor has promised a total of 69 new beds for Calvary Hospital and a boost to birthing services for the Belconnen health service.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said yesterday that, if re-elected next month, her government would spend about $63 million over four years on 64 new beds for Calvary, a new two-bed birthing centre and boosted capabilities for the hospital's emergency department.

The announcement was accompanied by a public show of unity with Calvary's private owners, with whom the ACT government has had a sometimes frosty relationship in recent years.

Yesterday's pledge included hiring 13 doctors, 99 nurses, and 12 allied health workers to service the new wards, beds and birthing suites.

Labor is promising a new medical Rapid Assessment and Planning Unit of eight beds in the emergency department, for people who present at the emergency department with complex conditions.

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The hospital's psychiatric services for elderly patients will also be expanded by five beds, Ms Gallagher said.

The Chief Minister said that the two new birthing suites, to be installed in unused space at Calvary, would give about 200 northside women each year an opportunity to use the ''midwife-led'' model of care, currently only available at the Canberra Hospital in Woden.

''In terms of maternity services, a big driver on the northside of Canberra, is creating a birth centre environment here at Calvary Hospital,'' the Chief Minister said.

''We know it's what women love, we've expanded it at Canberra from three to five suites and this is about creating that environment here.

''Half of the births at Canberra Hospital's birth centre are from women north of the lake, so we know there is demand there.''

The policies were endorsed by Calvary's owners, the Little Company of Mary Healthcare, this morning with the group's chairman John Watkins praising the initiatives.

''We're most pleased with this announcement today, this commitment to the people of north Canberra,'' he said. ''We're particularly excited about the maternity model, I think the midwifery-led model is going to be embraced by the families and the women of north Canberra.''

Canberra Liberals' health spokesman Jeremy Hanson said his party supported an expanded Calvary Hospital but said he did not believe that Labor could deliver on its promises.

''The Canberra Liberals support the need to expand the capacity of our health system, including Calvary Hospital, and have recently announced a $7 billion health policy that includes a new sub-acute hospital, and urgent care clinics in the suburbs,'' Mr Hanson said. ''We will look at the details of Labor's announcement, but given the recent three-year acrimonious battle between Labor and Calvary, and Labor's ongoing failures in health, it is unlikely they will deliver on their promises.''

But the ACT Greens said yesterday that they were not happy with the birthing suite plans, with health spokeswoman Amanda Bresnan saying her party wanted a ''stand-alone'' birthing centre in the city's north.

''Last week the ACT Greens announced a commitment to a feasibility study for a stand-alone birth centre led by midwives at the new University of Canberra sub-acute hospital,'' Ms Bresnan said.

''The birth centre at the Canberra Hospital isn't meeting demand, with around 400 women a year unable to use this service.''

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