Health service changes

Visiting a health facility in the ACT?

A new digital screening tool is now available to make it easier to determine if it is safe for someone to enter a health facility. The screening tool must be filled in before entering. For further information click here.

The ACT Government is making changes to our health services to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We are also reducing non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity.

We are doing this to contain the spread of COVID-19. It will decrease demand on our public health system so services can respond to the pandemic.

From Thursday 26 March, areas affected are:

  • elective surgeries
  • community based services
  • medical outpatients, procedures, and treatments.

We are contacting patients whose appointments or treatments are affected.

Where possible, clinicians will hold appointments over the phone or on video call.

No patient will lose their spot on the wait list as a result of these actions.

If you have not been contacted, please attend as planned.

If you are attending an appointment, please come alone unless you need someone to help you.

If you wish to cancel your appointment, please call Central Health Intake on 5124 9977. You can also use the online cancellation form on the Health website.

Do not come if you have:

  • been overseas in the last 14 days
  • been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • symptoms including fever, cough, cold, flu or diarrhoea.
  • Visited a COVID-19 affected area in the last 14 days.

Visitors

ACT Health is advising people who have been to Victoria, Greater Sydney and COVID-affected areas of Queensland, that they should not visit or work in high-risk settings, including aged care facilities and hospitals for a period of 14 days after leaving these area. This advice extends to staff, volunteers and visitors to high-risk settings.

More information can be found on our Travel advice page and Chief Health Officer alerts page.

From Monday 13 July, all hospitals and community health centres across the ACT are returning to tighter visitor restrictions.

ACT hospital visitor policy update

A reminder that due to the changing circumstances with COVID-19, all hospitals and health services across the ACT continue to have visitor restrictions in place.

These include:

  • one visitor per patient, per day
  • women attending pregnancy check-ups in hospital can be accompanied by a support person
  • children up to the age of 17 years should avoid visiting health facilities
  • patients attending an outpatient and/or a community health clinic should, wherever possible, attend alone. If patients do require a support person, they should be asked to limit this to one person only
  • admitted babies, children and young people (0 -17 years) may have one parent/carer present at all times, with an additional visitor up to one hour each day
  • when a woman is admitted for care related to birthing, she may have up to two support persons present. This needs to be pre-planned with the relevant midwifery and obstetric staff during antenatal care.

You will be asked to fill in the screening tool on the ACT Health App as you enter the facility if contract tracing is required.

If you are unwell, or have recently been overseas, or to Victoria, Greater Sydney, and COVID-19 affected areas in Queensland, please do not come to visit loved ones.

The decision to restrict visitors to our health services is always a difficult one, but it ensures we can protect the health and safety of patients, staff and their loved ones.

This is especially necessary for our most vulnerable, particularly patients whose health is already compromised.

Health services and hospital staff will continue to apply this policy with compassion and common sense, and exceptions for compassionate reasons will continue.

New digital screening tool now available

Our health services in the ACT are enhancing screening processes to keep staff, patients and their loved ones safe from COVID-19.

A new digital screening tool is now available to make it easier to determine if it is safe for someone to enter a health facility.

How does it work?

The screening tool must be filled in before entering a health facility in the ACT. It involves answering a series of simple questions. A green tick or red cross will indicate whether or not it is safe to enter. You will need to show screening staff what is displayed on your phone/device.

If you do not have a mobile phone or do not wish to complete the form online, you will need to answer the same questions at the security desk before being allowed to enter a facility.

To access the online screening, simply:

  • Scan the QR code on the health screening posters as you enter the health facility

OR

OR

  • Fill in a form at the screening desk.

The screening tool will also be available on the ACT Health App soon.

For more information, including Q&As, visit health.act.gov.au

Elective surgery

The ACT has resumed elective surgery across the Territory in a careful and staged approach. This approach is in line with Federal Government’s announcement earlier in May that national restrictions on elective surgery have been lifted.

While we will continue to conduct more elective surgeries, we need to remain mindful of preserving our Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) supplies. This is to ensure we can protect staff and patients should we experience an outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT.

Hospitals across the ACT are now planning how to address the backlog that was caused by the restrictions. A long-standing, strong partnership between public and private hospitals in the ACT has enabled us to continue some additional public elective surgery work in private hospitals during the pandemic.

We are assessing patients for surgery on a clinical needs basis. If your condition changes or you would like to be reassessed, please make an appointment to see your GP or your surgeon.

If you have any concerns or questions you can contact our Elective Surgery Information Hotline on 02 5124 9889.

Changes to Women, Youth and Children services

In line with current restrictions due to COVID-19 and with the ACT Government’s announcement on 25 March 2020 to reduce all non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity, Canberra Health Services have implemented a number of changes. Look in the drop-down menus below for more information about these changes.

The health of our clients, visitors and staff is our biggest priority. We have made changes to how we deliver our services, to ensure we continue to keep our community safe while providing the highest level of care.

This is an overwhelming time for people, particularly new parents or mums-to-be. Please be assured we are working hard to find new ways of delivering services to support you at this time, including the use of telephone and the Telehealth Platform which allows for face-to-face health care in a digital format.

These changes will help to contain the spread of COVID-19 and decrease demand on our health system.

For further information please visit the Health website.

Hydrotherapy pools

The University of Canberra Hospital hydrotherapy pool is currently open and operating at limited capacity to meet ACT Government COVID-19 restrictions.

All clinics are now being run at the University of Canberra Hospital (UCH) hydrotherapy pool with participant numbers limited to four people per session.

Arthritis ACT and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance have recommenced their sessions at the UCH hydrotherapy pool, complying to the four person limit per session.

For those participating in the home-based rehabilitation program, the number of persons in a hydrotherapy pool where it is being used for therapeutic purposes is limited only by the need to observe physical distancing of one person per four square metres. The person undergoing the therapy may only be accompanied by one parent, guardian or carer.

For the status of private aquatic facilities, you are encouraged to seek advice from individual operators.

Decisions regarding communal spaces such as changerooms in non-government facilities is at the discretion of the owner/manager. Where these facilities are made available, it is recommended that venue-specific physical distancing and general hygiene principles are applied.

Telehealth

Canberrans requiring outpatient services can access appointments from home using a simple-to-use Telehealth Service video call. This service is available to Canberra Health Services (CHS)  and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce outpatients.

Using telehealth allows patients to stay home, protecting themselves from potential exposure to COVID-19.

Patients whose appointments have moved online will be provided instructions for accessing the service from a smartphone, tablet or home computer.

Telehealth is simple to use, and clear instructions will be provided to help patients access this service.  It will complement existing appointment options. Patients who prefer or need in-person treatment can continue to attend appointments in the way that best suits them.

For further information visit the Health website.

Electronic prescribing

The COVID-19 outbreak has prompted a range of new measures to support telehealth consultations and electronic prescribing, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect people most at risk in the community.

The Australian Government has enabled the use of telehealth consultations under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and has fast tracked implementation of its electronic prescribing initiative.

These measures are currently operating in the ACT.

Patients are encouraged to contact their doctor regarding options for remote medical consultations and prescriptions during the COVID-19 emergency.

Continued Dispensing and Emergency supply

The Chief Health Officer has signed a temporary standing order for emergency supply of medicines by pharmacists during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This arrangement is an extension of the standing order signed in January 2020 in response to the bushfire crisis.

It will enable patients to receive their usual medications without a prescription, where the pharmacist is satisfied there is immediate need.

The Australian Government has also extended its Continued Dispensing (Emergency Measures) arrangements for the COVID-19 outbreak, so that a patient can receive their usual medicine from a pharmacist without a prescription when there is an immediate need at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) subsidised price.

This scheme is fully enabled in the ACT.

People will be able to access a maximum PBS quantity or pack size, usually a months’ supply, of their medicines. The medicine people will be able to access must have been previously prescribed and be for the continuation of current essential treatment.

acknowledgement icon
Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: August 28 2020