No funds to fix our hospital

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Health Minister Roger Cook has remained tight-lipped about addressing a shortfall in services at the overworked Margaret River Hospital.

Last month, the Times reported renewed concerns about a drop in services, nurse shortages, difficulties housing seniors waiting for aged-care beds, and increased use of volunteer ambulance crew to transport patients out of hours to hospitals in Busselton and Bunbury.

But widely reported challenges within the Perth and Bunbury hospital systems, including congestion from ambulance ramping, meant Margaret River’s difficulties would not receive any foreseeable lifeline.

Mr Cook, pictured, passed inquiries on to a State Government spokesperson, who reiterated com-ments to the Times hospital redevelopments and expansions were “funded on a priority basis”.

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“While the facility’s infrastructure is ageing, Margaret River Hospital continues to deliver high-quality care to the local community,” the spokesperson said.

“Margaret River District Hospital remains a fully accredited site and continues to meet its obligations under the WA Emergency Access Target despite an increase in presentations of lower acuity.”

While the Government insists the hospital maintains three surgical lists per fortnight, senior doctor Shaun O’Rourke said anything beyond “GP-level” procedures were now sent north.

Vasse MLA and Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam told the Government to do better.

“This is another example of the McGowan Government ignoring the real issues facing WA’s health system, which was struggling pre-COVID and is now crumbling under increased pressure,” she said.

“It is appalling that basic general maintenance work has been left for three years at Margaret River Hospital and now another regional hospital is faced with the same issue.

“The fact that there is no commitment to carry out the repairs is another example of a lack of leadership from the minister for health and Premier.”

Ms Mettam said it was unfair to force regional residents to travel to make up for the health system’s shortcomings.

Dr O’Rourke said there was some immediate improvement in nursing rosters, and talk of the hospital going on to a list for future upgrades since last month’s report.

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman was unable to confirm any actions had been taken since the latest Times report, noting any redevelopment of the site depended on WA Treasury budgeting.

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