Coroner implores State Government to properly fund hospitals 

Feb 24, 2023 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

WA Coroner Sarah Linton has found that there was a possibility that Aishwarya Aswath may not have died had she received treatment when she first arrived at the Perth Children’s Hospital in April 2021. 

WA Liberal Leader and Shadow Minister for Health Libby Mettam said this was a damning report and as a parent, very hard to read. 

“My heart goes out to the Aswath family,” Ms Mettam said. 

The Coroner also placed responsibility for understaffing issues at the Perth Children’s Hospital on the night of Aishwarya’s death firmly at the feet of the McGowan Government. 

“The report highlights the McGowan Government’s failure to properly resource and staff the children’s hospital. The Government has nowhere to hide,” Ms Mettam said. 

“I can only reflect on the Coroner’s finding that it should not have taken the death of a precious child for the Government to recognise and fix the health system mess. 

“It is quite extraordinary that the Coroner would point out that the funding shortfalls under the McGowan Government come at a time when the State is in a “healthy financial position”. 

“It is pleasing the report exonerates the nursing staff, who were working under sub-optimal circumstances on the night of Ashwarya’s death, and recommends “safe harbour” provisions to protect nurses from prosecution when they are working in circumstances of known risk. 

“Safe harbour provisions would stop future governments throwing nurses and doctors, who were only doing their jobs, to the wolves like the McGowan Government did in this case. 

“Surely now, the Health Minister and Premier will take responsibility and apologise to the Aswath family. 

“The Premier must own this problem and pledge to properly resource our health system. Ashwarya’s family deserves that.” 

Ms Mettam said WA must avoid future tragedies like this. No other Western Australian family should ever have to go through this. 

“The warning signs of a crumbling health system are all around us; exploding ambulance ramping, ever-expanding surgery lists, staff shortages, bed shortages, and hospitals on by-pass,” she said. 

“Stand up Premier and own this problem and fix it.”