Health service changes in response to COVID-19

Released 25/03/2020

The ACT Government is implementing further changes to our health services to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Following endorsement by National Cabinet, the Prime Minister announced today that from 11.59pm 25 March until further notice all elective surgery, other than category 1 and urgent category 2 cases, will be suspended. This will apply to public and private hospital systems.

Alongside this measure, the ACT’s public health system will also be reducing non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity.

These changes will help to contain the spread of COVID-19 and decrease demand on our health system, ensuring our services are well resourced and staffed to respond to the pandemic.

Our top priority now is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community and to keep Canberrans safe.

These are very difficult decisions to make and we know there are many Canberrans who will be impacted.

This is an overwhelming time for people, particularly those with health concerns. We thank the community for their understanding and patience during this challenging period.

Reducing non-urgent elective surgery

In line with today’s announcement by the Prime Minister, the ACT Government is reducing non-urgent elective surgery across the Territory.

All patients on elective surgery waitlists are being clinically reviewed to ensure the most urgent surgeries are prioritised.

Patients whose elective surgery has previously been confirmed and booked will be contacted individually and advised if their surgery is being delayed as a result of this decision. These patients will remain on the elective surgery waitlist.

Canberra Health Services (CHS) is meeting with stakeholders across the ACT to maximise access for emergency and urgent elective surgery during the COVID-19 response.

The demand for elective and emergency surgery will be constantly monitored and balanced against the capacity and preparedness required to safely manage the COVID-19 demand.

Reducing non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity

Canberra Health Services (CHS) is reducing all non-urgent and non-essential non-admitted activity. This will include community-based services, medical outpatients, procedures, and treatments.

From Thursday 26 March appointments that clinicians deem to be non-essential will be either cancelled or postponed. Essential appointments will be converted to virtual appointments where possible. This will include telephone or video consultations.

CHS is contacting patients whose appointments or treatments are affected. No patient will lose their spot on the wait list as a result of these actions.

Patients who are not contacted by CHS should attend for their previously confirmed appointment or call the [intake line] on [number] if they wish to reschedule their appointment or treatment.

Transfer of patients to University of Canberra Hospital

To provide increased capacity in acute wards at Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital for acutely unwell patients, 28 patients from Canberra Hospital and two patients from Calvary Hospital will be transferred to University of Canberra Hospital.

Temporary closure of hydrotherapy pool

From Monday, 30 March 2020 the University of Canberra Hospital (UCH) hydrotherapy pool will temporarily close.

This is in line with the Chief Minister’s announcement of a shutdown of all non-essential services, including gyms and indoor sporting facilities.

CHS recognises hydrotherapy is an important therapeutic activity for many people with chronic illness to maintain their mobility, manage their pain and to foster overall wellbeing.

We encourage people to continue with a home-based rehabilitation program.

Service changes will be published on the ACT Health website:

- Statement ends -

Section: Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases

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