Heat on Premier over dud air-con

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Premier Mark McGowan at Busselton Health Campus earlier this year.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan at Busselton Health Campus earlier this year. Credit: Busselton-Dunsborough Times, Jackson Lavell-Lee

Premier Mark McGowan has declined to wade into the lengthy delays in resolving an air-conditioning problem at Margaret River Hospital, which has seen some surgery patients directed to Busselton and Bunbury.

The Premier visited the Capes in September to talk up WA Government stimulus spending, which allocated money for painting work and minor upgrades to hospitals and schools across the region.

But he declined to comment on whether that money was better allocated to resolving the air-conditioning stand-off in Margaret River, which has affected some procedures. In August last year, veteran general practitioner Shaun O’Rourke warned residents would have to travel further afield for many operations.

Dr O’Rourke told the Times considerable money was given to other regional hospitals — including overhauling the two-year-old Busselton Health Campus emergency department — but Margaret River Hospital was languishing without a clear lifeline.

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A WA Country Health Service spokesperson said the air-conditioning was not included in the overall $7.34 million allocated to the South West as part of the “hospital maintenance blitz”.

“The air-handling unit that provides flow to the operating theatre at Margaret River Hospital has been identified for works noting that infrastructure and equipment upgrades throughout WA Health are considered for funding on a prioritised basis,” the spokesperson said.

“Three operating lists per fortnight are undertaken at the facility and cover minor procedures, colonoscopies and dental procedures.

“The air-handling unit is able to safely support this level of activity.

“Patient safety and quality of care remains the highest priority for the WA Country Health Service with patients across regional WA directed to the most clinically appropriate facility.”

The continued inaction has some medical workers in the region fearing the delay was designed to downgrade services in Margaret River.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman said the air-flow unit should be a priority in the “blitz”.

“Whilst the Margaret River Hospital allocation of $20,000 for painting ceilings is welcomed, something seems amiss if the basics of airflow in the hospital’s theatre remains unaddressed,” he said.

“Margaret River Hospital services a significant hinterland, and when you include the additional demands of the summer period, it makes sense to keep it working to capacity.”

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