‘WA hospitals are always full’: AMA welcomes $252 million but says state needs more beds

The Australian Medical Association has welcomed the increased investment in emergency departments announced by the state government on Monday, but says a plan to increase the attractiveness of the state’s hospital system to potential employees is needed.

AMA WA president Dr Mark Duncan-Smith said the $252 million in new health funding was a recognition of out-of-control ambulance ramping and a health crisis in WA. Hospitals were always full, with not enough beds.

It is our concern these measures will have the appearance of action being taken against ramping, without
providing a cure or even making a material difference to the crisis, he said.

Nevertheless, we are heartened and encouraged by the announcement of a Ministerial Taskforce led by the
Health Minister.

Earlier on Monday the state government unveiled the package which aims to make major changes to the provision of emergency care in WA hospitals.

Ahead of the May 12 state budget, Premier Mark McGowan said 17 initiatives would reduce demand pressure on emergency departments.

The package includes $55. 8 million for additional registered nurses in emergency departments across the state, $18. 2 million for a new improved triage system and $74. 1 million to help get people who should be in aged care or disability care out of emergency departments and hospitals and into alternative forms of care.

The circumstances we face at the moment are really unprecedented in terms of demand and the pressures on our emergency departments . . . and we want to make sure that we invest significant amounts of money in improving that, McGowan said.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the package would focus on reducing demand pressures and enhancing system-wide coordination but the measures were about long-term reform and she did not expect great improvement in ambulance ramping and patient flow in the coming months.

She said this was because there was still a high COVID caseload in the state, and winter was beginning, a time of traditionally higher levels of ambulance ramping.

The state budget would contain an additional $30 million for regional paramedics, on top of an already announced $20 million which rolled out 27 paramedics across the regions over the past two years.

Last week St John Ambulance WA chief executive Michelle Fyfe announced a clinical incident review would be conducted into the death of a .

On the same day the Geraldton woman died, a .

I’m not looking for a quick fix, Sanderson said. But what we want is genuine reform to see those hours tracking downwards, steadily and consistently.

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