Health service changes

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.

Visitors

To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our patients, babies and staff safe, Canberra Health Services will be limiting the number of visitors to all sites, including the Canberra Hospital.

Patients must limit their number of visitors to one person allowed on site per day. We’re also discouraging families from bringing their children on site, if possible.

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 closed.

For those participating in 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 social distancing of one person per 4 square metres. However, the person undergoing the therapy may only be accompanied by one parent, guardian or carer.

Regarding the status of private aquatic facilities, customers 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 will be rolled out initially to Canberra Health Services (CHS) outpatients, with Calvary Public Hospital Bruce appointments to follow.

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

Canberra Health Services will contact patients whose appointments have moved online and provide 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.

COVID-19 Surge Centre

The COVID-19 Surge Centre is a temporary facility located on Garran Oval. The Surge Centre is one part of the ACT’s COVID-19 Response Plan, helping to boost our capacity and enhance our ability to respond to the pandemic.

The facility will ensure our health system is well prepared and resourced should we see an increase of cases of COVID-19 in our community.

The COVID-19 Surge Centre will only become operational if the ACT sees a surge in COVID-19 infections. The facility may also be used for training or simulation exercises to ensure that staff are well-prepared in the event of a surge in infections.

The facility will be removed and the Garran Oval remediated once the public health emergency has passed

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: May 26 2020