In the March, 2013, review, chief medical officer Professor Gary Geelhoed pinpoint-ed a lack of leadership in the emergency department and poor communication between staff. Three doctors referred to the Medical Board of Australia were suspended from practice at the hospital’s emergency department.
Teenager Andrew Allan died in November, 2010, just hours after being turned away from the hospital’s emergency department, and between 2010 and 2012 four other people died shortly after being assessed at the hospital and sent home.
Health spokeswoman Jaimee Motion said the funding was unrelated to the CMO’s investigation findings at Northam Hospital and was part of a $325.8 million boost to health infrastructure across southern WA, funded by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions.
Health Minister Kim Hames said the upgraded Northam Hospital would provide a comprehensive and greatly expanded emergency department to provide modern, well-equipped emergency services at Northam.
‘The facility will also provide a single point of patient access to health services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, counselling, community health nursing, community mental health and aged-care support,’ Dr Hames said.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman and Dr Hames will visit Northam, Merredin, Narrogin, Katanning, Collie and Manjimup to announce funding for individual projects carried out under the Government’s Royalties for Regions-funded $565 million Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI).
Mr Redman said SIHI was the biggest health investment in regional WA and the upgrades to Northam Hospital would provide high levels of service self-sufficiency and help build a more robust healthcare service in the region.
‘Royalties for Regions funding through SIHI aims to address gaps in healthcare for the ongoing sustainability and increased prosperity across the southern half of the State,’ Mr Redman said.
‘Northam and surrounding communities will now be able to receive a modern and contemporary health service closer to home.’
The Australian Government is contributing $5.5 million towards the new renal and cancer services at Northam Hospital.
While the tender process will determine the specific timeline for the project, the upgrade of Northam Hospital is expected to start in the second half of next year and will take about two years to complete.
SIHI will deliver infrastructure improvements to 36 towns in the southern inland region of WA.
The $325.8 million investment will involve upgrades to six district hospitals totalling $173.7 million, as well as an additional $108.8 million for upgrades and refurbishment of small hospitals and nursing posts.