Canberra's private hospitals will take on public patients under a six-week deal designed to lift the burden on the ACT's overwhelmed health system.
An ACT government spokesman said up to 28 additional public hospital patients will be treated by private hospitals at any given time as part of agreements with Calvary Health Care and Nexus Hospitals.
Calvary John James Hospital and Calvary Private Hospital Bruce will each provide 10 beds and the Canberra Private Hospital will take six to eight patients.
"The first patients to be cared for under these arrangements will be transferred shortly, easing capacity pressures in the public hospitals," the spokesman said.
"The arrangements will remain in place for six weeks with the possibility of extension following a review, and are a great example of the health system working together as one across the Territory."
Canberra Hospital has come under enormous pressure in recent weeks as COVID-19 cases rise and as patients were presenting with more serious health problems, meaning they need to stay in hospital longer.
Canberra Health Services acting chief executive Cathie O'Neill previously said some patients had been putting off seeking healthcare amid long waiting times for some general practitioners.
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Meanwhile, hospitals are trying to catch up on surgeries that were missed due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
At the same time, the system has experienced acute staffing shortages caused by illness and planned leave over the Easter and Anzac Day period.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said junior medical officers would be arriving in Australia from the middle of the year to bolster the local workforce, while more graduate nurses and midwives were also being recruited.
The ACT government spokesman said there were further mechanisms available to share resources and access additional surge capacity in the coming weeks and months if needed.
"We want to thank our private hospital partners and their team members for this important contribution to the ACT government's COVID-19 response," he said.
"We know it comes at a time when they too are experiencing high demand and workforce challenges.
"The entire system has been under sustained pressure as COVID-19 case numbers have risen in the community, in our hospitals and within the health care workforce.
"Presentations related to other illnesses and of patients who are extremely unwell have also risen."
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Sarah covers all stages of education in the capital, from early childhood to higher education. Previously she was a general news reporter at The Advocate in North West Tasmania. She was named Best New Journalist at the 2019 Tasmanian Media Awards for a series on paramedic shortages. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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