HEALTH Minister Kim Hames conceded there were hiccups at Fiona Stanley in its first year of operation but said that he was proud of what the hospital had achieved.
Dr Hames spoke at the one-year anniversary yesterday. He said he had not expected 100,000 patients through the emergency department.
“Our staff have been magnificent, working exceptionally hard to make sure that they coped with the huge surge of patients we had coming through,” he said.
“It was about 10 per cent more than we expected and a significant increase on the numbers we saw at Fremantle Hospital which was seeing around 55,000 (emergency department) patients per year.”
Dr Hames and the Health Department received strong criticism following burst water pipes, poor mobile reception and a scathing parliamentary inquiry into the transfer of patients to Fiona Hospital and the inept sterilisation procedures provided by private contractor Serco.
But he said all major issues had been resolved and he regularly received positive feedback on the hospital from the public.
“One thing that people don’t appreciate is how many letters saying thank you and congratulations. And I think the reason I get so many letters is because there has been a lot of adverse, negative publicity in the media,” he said.
Dr Hames said he was not concerned the impending loss of 297 full-time jobs would push Fiona Stanley past its breaking point.
“You have to remember for a start that budgets haven’t been cut – budgets have actually been increased,” he said
“They haven’t been increased enough to cater for the extra spending that is going on in hospitals.
“And part of that is hospitals recruiting beyond the capacity of the health system to pay, and beyond the numbers that we need when we compare with any other state in Australia.
“That means that some people that were recruited, beyond what we needed, will now have to lose their jobs – that’s why we have a redundancy package offer and we’re getting significant numbers of applications for those packages.”