The McGowan Government’s new modular unit is a band-aid fix from a government that has been asleep at the wheel and failed to plan for the future, according to the Opposition.
Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said while she welcomed any measure that would help ease pressure on a health system at absolute capacity, it was disappointing the government was resorting to short-term, quick fixes rather than proper planning.
“What the McGowan Government is essentially doing is re-opening all the beds they closed when they formed government,” Ms Mettam said.
“They took a knife to the health system in the first couple of years to make the books look good and now realise that there is no capacity and have embarked on a desperate game of catch-up.”
Ms Mettam also questioned whether the modulars would be needed if the McGowan Government had actually delivered on its 2017 election promise to build Medihotels.
“The modular is going to be used for low acuity care – freeing up hospital beds – which is exactly what the three Medihotels promised in 2017 were supposed to do.
“Yet five years on and the McGowan Government has delivered just one Medihotel with a total of four beds at Royal Perth Hospital.
“The Murdoch facility is still being built and the promised Joondalup Medihotel has been put on ice, part of a future “vision” but no real plans to deliver it any time soon.
“There’s been a complete one-eyed focus on budget surpluses from this government without proper planning for future needs that has left the health system on its knees.”
Ms Mettam also questioned how many extra staff would be needed and whether increased capacity was currently available.
“We know that our committed frontline healthcare workers have consistently been asked to do more with less and the McGowan Government has so far come up short with incentives and competitive wage increases to remunerate this valuable workforce compared to other States,” Ms Mettam said.
“I hope there is also the additional staffing to accompany the extra beds in this modular and that existing staff won’t be expected to step in and fill the gaps through extra shifts and overtime.”