Hospital crisis falls without more money: Barr | The Canberra Times

coronavirus, andrew barr, canberra, hospital, funding, covid, coronavirus

The ACT Prime Minister warned of a “crisis” in Canberra’s hospitals if the Commonwealth does not provide more money. Prime Minister Andrew Barr painted a picture of important but non-emergency suffering as COVID continues to dominate the work of the ACT health service, including at Canberra Hospital. “I’m talking about a serious crisis,” Mr. Barr said. “There is an urgent need to improve this situation.” The Prime Minister said the money needed by the ACT was in the “tens of millions-the hundreds of millions”, and he did not see a sharp drop in COVID cases in the near future, even if the vaccination rate was approaching 90 percent of the community. The issue of federal support was raised at the national cabinet meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday but without any resolution. Mr. Barr was asked if the Canberra health system could cope if the Commonwealth could not help. He replied: “No. We need money.” His concerns echoed as spelled out in a letter to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, signed by ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith and her fellow state and territory health ministers. They wrote that funding was needed because of the “relentless strain” on their health systems, in what they declared would be the “most critical stage of the COVID-19 pandemic response for our hospital systems”. In the ACT case, Mr Barr was also looking at the border for help. “NSW also needs to chip in,” he said. A quarter of patients in Canberra are from across the border, he said, so their treatment will have to be funded, at least, by their home state. There are three areas where Mr. Barr insisted the money was urgently needed: the hospital and broader health services; the management of COVID cases in the community; and mental health crisis clinics and assistance for people with disabilities. Although to highlight the pressures at Canberra Hospital, chief health official Dr. Many issues were not addressed in the national cabinet partly because NSW was not represented, Premier Gladys Berejiklian who resigned earlier that day. As the pandemic lasts, the extra money will help care for COVID patients in their own homes, according to Mr. Barr, and free up hospital beds for the seriously ill. It will also make available resources for electioneering, vital operations for conditions that can be painful but not immediately life threatening. These are placed on the backburner while resources, whether equipment, buildings or skilled staff, are working overtime against COVID. The government said that by the end of this month 95 per cent of eligible Canberrans should be vaccinated. But people who are fully vaccinated can still contract COVID, even if they have a lower chance – and a lower chance of developing serious illness or death. Mr. Barr said that for every over 1000 people fully vaccinated, there are 100 fewer who need to go to hospital, and 10 fewer who need intensive care. He was speaking after the latest disappointing figures for new COVID cases in the ACT were published. He was clearly shocked when he was told that there were 52 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8 pm on Friday, the same record number as the previous day. “At first, my heart went, ‘Oh no. Not again!'” He said. He remained “reasonably confident” that the ACT restrictions would ease on Oct. 15. “But we have to look at the next few days.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this COVID-19 outbreak in the ACT and the lockdown is free for anyone to access. However, we rely on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you do, please subscribe here. If you are a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists strive to provide local, timely news to the community. Here’s how you can maintain access to our trusted content:


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