Over 500 vacancies for essential frontline workers putting health services at risk

Shadow Regional Health Minister Martin Aldridge has condemned the State Labor Government’s ongoing neglect of the health system after it was confirmed over 500 vacancies exist for essential frontline health workers.

Answers provided by the Health Minister this week revealed the WA health system was short 102 midwives, 82 theatre nurses, and 349 junior doctors (by FTE).

Mr Aldridge said the State Government and Health Minister could no longer downplay the severity of the health crisis given the alarming numbers.

“Despite the reluctance of the Health Minister to provide detail on staff shortages impacting our fragile health system, we can now reveal WA is short-staffed by more than 500 staff in critical areas including midwives, theatre nurses and junior doctors,” Mr Aldridge said.

“This State Government has had more time and more money than any other government in the world and their failure to deliver essential staff on the frontlines is an indictment on them.”

Mr Aldridge said the midwife shortage was especially concerning for WA families and had resulted in service closures in regional WA as well as over 300 maternity bypasses in the metro region in the last 12 months.

“The critical shortage of midwives has placed immense pressure on regional healthcare, leading to the recent closure of maternity services in Carnarvon, and placing health services further north at risk of collapse,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Under the watch of this Health Minister, it is no longer possible to deliver a baby in the entire Gascoyne region – forcing expectant families to travel up to 1,000 kilometres to access services in Geraldton and Perth.”

Mr Aldridge also raised concerns about the viability of health services in the State’s north.

“In the past year it was suggested midwifery services in Karratha and Port Hedland were at risk of imminent service failure, while Wyndham and Kununurra hospitals were forced to reduce operating hours due to staff shortages,” Mr Aldridge said.

“If this trend continues it may become very difficult to give birth anywhere north of Geraldton.”

Mr Aldridge also criticised the Government’s plan to attract interstate and international staff.

“During estimates it was revealed the Government has not recorded data on where staff have been recruited from, which begs the question of how they measure the success of these multi-million-dollar recruitment campaigns.”