WA’S peak medical body and workers’ union United Voice have roundly condemned the decision to combine the governance of Fiona Stanley and Fremantle hospitals.
The announcement comes fresh on the heels of a damaging parliamentary inquiry into the transition and operation of services at the embattled Fiona Stanley.
It also follows stop-work strikes at both Fremantle and Royal Perth hospitals in protest against expected staffing cuts as part of a Health Department budget slim down.
United Voice secretary Carolyn Smith said it was clear the State Government was making decisions on the run.
“This is a Government, and a Health Minister, who are lurching from crisis to crisis in our public hospitals,” she said.
“There is no plan.
“The minister has lost all control of his portfolio.”
Acting chief executive of the South Metropolitan Health Service Dr Robyn Lawrence said the two hospitals would realign as the Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group in February 2016.
“The primary intent of the new structure is to develop a seamless connection between the two hospitals which is expected to lead to better patient flow and transfer processes between the sites and a flexible workforce with enhanced clinical rotations and improved workforce opportunities,” she said.
Australian Medical Association (WA) president Dr Michael Gannon attacked the decision, pointing towards the poor track record of Fiona Stanley’s administration team and stating they already had their hands full dealing with a hospital operating at capacity. “This is a classic case of policy on the run and without consideration of its likely impact,” he said.
“The financial bottom line seems to be the only consideration. How can the State Government justify removing services at Fremantle Hospital when Fiona Stanley Hospital is constantly at capacity?
A Department of Health spokeswoman disputed claims FSH was constantly at threat of entering bed status black (triggered when all beds are occupied).
“The bed state alert system is used in all hospitals as an internal bed management process that helps staff manage patient care in order to meet demand,” she said.
“The information is a prompt for ward staff to implement strategies to ensure patients who can be safely discharged are discharged appropriately to allow for emergency department patients to be admitted to the wards.”