WA health system needs critical review as McGowan Government turns blind eye to crisis 

Mar 1, 2023 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

The Opposition has welcomed the Australian Nursing Federation’s support for a Royal Commission into the WA health system and believes it is the only way the dysfunction within the system can be properly addressed. 

The Opposition and the family of Aishwarya Aswath launched a petition* and have been calling for this independent inquiry for the past six months. 

“The issues across our health system are endemic and not just confined to Perth Children’s Hospital,” Shadow Health Minster Libby Mettam said. 

“For our critical frontline health workers to now also publicly back the call for urgent intervention speaks volumes about the disconnect between what is happening on the ground in our hospitals and what the government is trying to tell us. 

“It is clear the system is at crisis point. We need an honest and thorough look at the issues from the top down, something we can only get from a royal commission.” 

Ms Mettam said the McGowan Government’s lack of knowledge on critical gaps in the health system this week was deeply concerning and highlighted that the Health Minister was out of touch and out of her depth in this portfolio, refusing to accept the buck stops with her. 

“If we can’t trust the Health Minister to be across the detail of critical recommendations in the health system, what faith can we have in the health system she oversees? 

“The McGowan Government continually tells us the health spend is the highest per capita in the country but it is not producing a well-functioning system. 

“We have seven of the 10 worst performing Emergency Departments in the country, the worst ambulance ramping on record at more than 66,000 hours last year and an elective surgery waitlist that has grown from 19,000 in 2017 to almost 28,000 last month. 

“If the government is throwing money at the system without real and sustained improvements to staff retention and morale, patient outcomes and system capacity, it is clear a more thorough investigation is needed to determine why and how it can be fixed.” 

Ms Mettam also questioned the lack of urgency in progressing major projects, such as the $1.8 billion Women’s and Babies Hospital announced in 2021. 

“The McGowan Government announced this project with much fanfare but two years on, there are still no plans, no contracts, and no idea of when it will start. 

“In the meantime, the government is throwing money at the ageing King Edward Memorial Hospital to enable it to limp along until it gets round to building the new facility. 

“Last week, we learnt $35 million will be spent to upgrade theatres. While ensuring safe facilities is paramount, Western Australians also deserve to know when will the promised new flagship Women’s and Babies Hospital be built?”