26 September 2023

Health Service cracks down on visitors

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Canberra Health Services is to slash visitor numbers in its facilities to one per patient per day in line with COVID-19 control measures announced by the National Cabinet.

Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith said the changes were in addition to cuts to non-urgent services and the suspension of elective surgery announced last week.

“These are very difficult decisions to make and we know there are many Canberrans who will be impacted,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Under the new measures, visitor access to all Canberra Health Services sites, including Centenary Hospital for Women and Children will be limited to one visitor per patient per day.

“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,” she said.

“We’re also discouraging families from bringing children on site, if possible.”

She said changes to maternity services had also been introduced but routine antenatal appointments were set to continue as normal.

“But as the situation is evolving this may need to change and any impacted patients will be contacted,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

She said antenatal classes and other group sessions would now be provided in an online format, while an early pregnancy and parenting phone line would be set up to offer support with pregnancy, maternal and child health, breastfeeding and emotional wellbeing concerns.

Changes to hospital delivery suite arrangements have also been announced.

“To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, one person will be allowed to be the support person in labour,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“This person will remain the designated visitor for the duration of the woman’s stay in hospital, in line with previously announced visitor restrictions.”

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