Opposition health minister Libby Mettam has chided the State Government for moving in slow motion to provide more hospital beds for the South West. Amid reports this week many of the promised new hospital beds in Perth were not new, but leased from private operators, revelations included news no new hospital beds were ready for Bunbury. And those promised 30 new beds at Bunbury Regional Hospital won’t come online until October. “The fact that these beds aren’t promised to be delivered until after this year’s flu season again raises questions about what the McGowan Government have been doing over the last two years,” Ms Mettam told the Times. “The only additional beds promised in the South West are in Bunbury and they are part of the cohort that won’t all come online until October, again after the winter flu season. “Meanwhile, despite WA Country Health Service identifying Margaret River hospital as a priority for expansion, there remain critical outstanding repairs which continue to be ignored,” she said. “These outstanding repairs need addressing immediately.” A Government health spokesperson said the beds in Bunbury were scheduled for midyear, rather than October. However, new Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson did not respond to specific questions about hospital readiness in the South West. A spokesperson said all regional hospitals had individual plans to manage COVID-19 cases. The Times understands the protocol for Augusta and Margaret River involved transfer of patients requiring intensive care to Bunbury and Perth metropolitan hospitals. WA had more than 600 ventilators, and a surge capacity of 316 intensive care beds, according to the minister’s spokesperson. “At the system level, WA Health has done extensive planning in areas including personal protective equipment, hospital capacity and patient flow, testing, workforce planning, infrastructure, and managing COVID-19 in the community,” the spokesperson said. “Our hospitals have been preparing for a long time and this work is continuing.” Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith welcomed any increase in capacity but said leasing beds in private hospitals did not represent a long-term investment in the public health system. “AMAWA calls for a proper needs assessment and review of the hospital capacity in metropolitan and regional Western Australia to deliver quality and safe medical care. “As the AMAWA has been pointing out for at least the last two years, the lack of bed capacity is the cause of ambulance ramping and now low system capacity to deal with COVID.” Ms Mettam also questioned whether the system had adequate staff to manage an increase in cases.