Our hospitals have reached crisis point. Code yellows have become commonplace. King Edward Memorial Hospital (King Eddie's) and Joondalup Health Campus have cancelled elective surgery for two weeks. King Eddie's, our only tertiary maternity hospital, has also urgently advertised for 85 midwives and nurses as it struggles to keep up with demand.
Despite the terrible problems our public hospitals have been experiencing for months, it has taken the death of seven-year-old Aishwarya Aswath who waited two hours for treatment at an emergency department for the Minister for Health to be forced to respond to the media spotlight. Still, the powers-that-be remain in denial and try to tell us the hospital system is fine. When Roger Cook said it was an exciting time to be Minister for Health, AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller had to respond in the media.
“Well, I can tell you this is not an exciting time to be an emergency department doctor or nurse,” Dr Miller said. “I get a lot of distressed people contacting me about the conditions in which they’re trying to work, trying to do their best, trying to hold it together. They’re worried that someone is going to die, and that’s what happened last weekend. So, no, we’re not excited. We’re very upset about what’s happening.”
The Government has allowed the health situation to deteriorate. At the same time, they have a $2 billion budget surplus. The message from Dr Miller – “If this is what budget repair looks like, I’m not sure what we’re saving all the money for." He continued: "I don’t want to hear any bureaucrat or minister stand up and say that safety is our first priority in Western Australia at the moment because quite clearly it’s not.”