8 May 2024

Top End's healthcare services boosted with funding for new facilities

| James Day
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Woman holding a baby outside.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress also recently launched a new model of health care and birthing service in Alice Springs, with the support of NT Health. Photo: NT Health.

The Northern Territory Government has made a significant investment to relieve pressure on hospitals as part of the Territory’s $2.2 billion health budget.

The government has set aside $32 million for planning and early works of a new aged care facility in Palmerston and a new health centre in Borroloola.

Chief Minister Eva Lawler said the government was investing in new facilities, more health care workers and upskilling doctors and nurses.

“We know how critical it is to get quality health care near where you live – no matter what part of the Territory you are from,” Ms Lawler said.

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Preparation work for the 120-bed aged care facility at Palmerston is set to begin, with $10 million dedicated to creating space in the Palmerston Regional Health Precinct and $2 million for the design of the facility. The Territory Government is in negotiations with the Commonwealth for additional investments for constructing this facility.

It is hoped the 120 beds will reduce demand on emergency departments as the region’s population aged over 65 is projected to increase to 35,000 by 2041.

Last month the Royal Darwin and Palmerston Regional hospitals declared a ‘Code Yellow’ due to significant pressures on their services, with a substantial growth in presentations of influenza A playing a part.

The remaining $20 million has been put towards the new health centre for Borroloola, which is expected to improve primary care delivery across the Roper Gulf region and provide increased care closer to home. It will feature consulting rooms, emergency bays, dental facilities, x-ray facilities, a hearing booth, renal facilities and a morgue.

The operating budget for Health has received a boost, with an additional $200 million investment in 2023-2024 and $100 million in 2024-25.

Minister for Health Selena Uibo said the Territory Government was planning for the long-term sustainability of its healthcare system to ensure no one was left behind.

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In other Territory health news, the Commonwealth has invested $55 million in Darwin’s National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. Commencing in July, the three-year funding agreement will allow the centre to maintain the staff, equipment and resources needed for “24/7 peak preparedness”.

The centre is located at the Darwin airport and Royal Darwin Hospital, where it provides trauma and critical care surge capacity in response to mass casualty events. In August the centre’s Trauma Service provided critical care to eight US Marines following the MV-22B Osprey crash.

Most recently, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) officially launched a new model of health care and birthing service – Alukura Midwifery Group Practice – in Alice Springs. The service, led by CAAC, is being delivered in partnership with My Midwives and NT Health, particularly Alice Springs Hospital.

It provides clinically and culturally safe midwifery care for Aboriginal women, with an emphasis on the continuity of care with the same midwife throughout their pregnancy.

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