Inquest highlights need for a Royal Commission into WA health system

Sep 2, 2022 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

The Opposition is supporting calls for a Royal Commission into the WA Health system after the inquest into the tragic death of seven-year-old Aishwarya Aswath laid bare the extent of the crisis in the system.

Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said that while frontline health workers were doing an incredible job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, the health system had been in continual freefall for the last couple of years and evidence suggested it was not improving.

“It’s been 16 months since Aishwarya’s death shone a spotlight on just how critical the health system had become, yet a new Minister and a bag full of budget commitments has not been able to turn this ship around,” Ms Mettam said.

“It’s clear the McGowan Government are lurching from crisis to crisis and for the people of WA to have confidence in the system, there needs to be an independent and thorough investigation.

“We cannot afford to have another three years of this dysfunction where staff are forced to work in these impossible situations and patients’ lives are potentially put at risk.”

Ms Mettam said the while the scope of the Royal Commission should include the whole system, it was important to understand why the government had not responded earlier to pleas to address staff and capacity in this case.

“This government was warned in the months leading up to Aishwarya’s death that inadequate staffing levels in the PCH emergency department could end in a disaster, yet it did nothing,” Ms Mettam said.

“It’s clear from the evidence that was provided from medical staff on the ground that the system was, and continues to be, under critical strain. The current status quo is unsustainable.

“The Premier has continually claimed the ED was adequately staffed but the number of nurses available on the night was clearly not enough to cope with the demand so either the advice was wrong, or the Premier is trying to divert and deflect attention from the truth.

“From a broader perspective of accountability and transparency, it is completely unacceptable that we have had repeated attempts to avoid responsibility at all levels for the failings in our health system.