In a follow-up to last year’s concerning discovery of reduced doctor availability at regional hospitals, regional patients are still suffering a lack of access to emergency care and treatment.
The Nationals WA Health spokesperson Martin Aldridge recently questioned the Labor Government to determine if there had been any improvement to the shocking finding in 2019 that there were severe shortages in Doctor coverage at Merredin, Narrogin and Katanning hospitals.
The response from Health Minister Roger Cook provided little reassurance, as the data disclosed just last month, that despite some improvement, significant shortcomings still exist.
From 1 July 2019 to 30 March 2020, it was confirmed that no Doctor was available on 49 occasions at these three major regional hospitals. During this period, 3 patients classified as ATS 1 – requiring immediate lifesaving care – presented at Narrogin, while a further 151 ATS 2 and 3 patients (requiring medical attention within 10 and 30 minutes) were triaged across all three hospital sites.
Mr Aldridge said it was disappointing to see such deficiencies in our regional public hospitals particularly during this extraordinary public health emergency that we are experiencing.
“Last year’s discovery of Doctor shortages in public hospital emergency departments should have been a wake-up call for the Labor Government to take action.” Mr Aldridge said.
“These are three of our major district hospitals, and they play an important role in supporting nearby smaller hospitals and nursing posts as well as having an increased capacity to manage higher acuity patients such as trauma from road accidents,” he said.
Member for Roe, Peter Rundle, said that the continued lack of care and attention for regional patients shows that Labor do not care about people beyond the Darling Scarp.
“Could you imagine if a patient requiring emergency lifesaving care was to present to a public hospital ED in Perth only to be told that no Doctor was rostered.
“That is not acceptable in the metropolitan area just as it is not acceptable for the three patients that presented to Narrogin Hospital with the highest level of urgency required in their treatment with no Doctor available to assist.
“I call on the State Government and Minister for Health to prioritise these hub hospitals to ensure they have 24/7 Doctor cover and to reassure those living in regional WA that their health is a priority,” Mr Rundle said.