Petition calls for government to reverse decision to build new Women and Babies Hospital at Murdoch

Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam will today launch a petition in conjunction with advocacy groups calling on the Cook Labor Government to reverse its decision to build the new Women and Babies Hospital at Murdoch.

Ms Mettam said the move not to co-locate the hospital with Perth Children’s Hospital at the QEII site in Nedlands was a reckless Captain’s Call made behind closed doors in Cabinet under a cover of secrecy.

“This is a decision that has been made without any consultation with the people that it will affect the most patients, their families and the healthcare workers,” Ms Mettam said.

“It has completely blindsided everyone and we are yet to see any business case to support moving this hospital to a site 20km south of the State’s leading tertiary paediatric hospital, Perth Children’s Hospital.

“The QEII site was never going to be easy but for a decade’s worth of research and consultation on this project to be overturned in a Cabinet meeting, without any support or input from specialists and clinicians, is absolutely incredulous.”

The petition is being launched with the Miracle Babies Foundation, Australia’s leading organisation supporting premature and sick babies, their families and the hospitals that care for them, and Helping Little Hands, a WA-based organisation providing services and advocacy for families of premature and sick babies.

They are calling on the Cook Labor Government to urgently reverse the decision to build the hospital at Murdoch.

Both organisations believe co-locating the new Women and Babies Hospital with Perth Children’s Hospital is the only option that will deliver the best possible care, health outcomes and service delivery for families and their babies.

“This decision absolutely shocked us. There was no consultation and no forewarning, and we are yet to see any rationale for it,” Helping Little Hands CEO Joanne Beedie said.

“We know there are at least 40 babies born every year at King Edward Memorial Hospital that require critical same-day surgery.

“For our sickest and smallest babies and their families, any travel to receive urgent lifesaving treatment is associated with increased mortality and morbidity.

“Without co-location of the two hospitals, there is likely to be increased death and life-long disability rates of our most vulnerable babies and it is completely incomprehensible that the two hospitals would not be built together if there is the option to do that.”

Ms Beedie said co-location would allow for coordinated multi-disciplinary antenatal, birth, and neonatal care for families and their babies.

Miracle Babies Co-Founder Kylie Pussell said having a premature or sick baby could be an extremely emotional and traumatic experience for many parents and families.

“Separating parents and babies at this most critical care period places them at even higher risk of mental health concerns that can be avoided and immediate clinical care for some of these most vulnerable babies needs to be priority,” Ms Pussell said.

The petition is also supported by former Director of Neonatal Care at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth Children’s Hospital and WA Newborn Emergency Transport Services Professor Karen Simmer.

“Co-location of the new Women and Babies Hospital with the Perth Children’s Hospital will provide optimal care,” Professor Simmer said.

“Not doing so, will increase risk to the lives of these patients, and could lead to duplication of tertiary paediatrics services with adverse consequences for staff training and clinical outcomes.”

Ms Mettam said it was imperative that the new Women and Babies Hospital was built at the site with the best health outcomes.

“QEII was always going to be a challenging build but just because something is hard doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t be done,” Ms Mettam said.

“We cannot afford to put the lives of future babies and their mothers at risk simply because the government wants to take the easy option.

“I urge everyone who is concerned about this irresponsible and baseless decision to sign the petition before it is too late to reverse it.”

The petition will be open to the public until October 13.