Cook Labor Government continues to put patient and health worker’s lives at risk

WA Liberal Leader and Shadow Minister for Health Libby Mettam is calling on the Cook Labor Government to explain why the tender process to remove highly combustible cladding at Fiona Stanley Hospital has just been announced this week, despite identifying a major risk over 5 years ago.

These assessments by WA Heath arose after the 2017 Grenfell apartment building in London found that same cladding enabled an electrical fire to spread rapidly, claiming 72 lives.

The audit, initiated by DEMIRS in July 2017, found that Fiona Stanley Hospital, QEII, Perth Children’s Hospital and Joondalup Hospital all required cladding to be replaced, stating that “we expect any remediation works to be a priority.”

“If the Cook Labor government valued the safety of patients and our frontline health staff then this dangerous and highly flammable cladding would not still be present 5 years later,” Ms Mettam said.

“No amount of spin from the Health Minister can explain this away – to announce in 2019, that work ‘would soon commence on a remediation strategy to replace aluminium composite panels’ and then to do nothing for five years simply defies explanation.

“The Health Minister has either dropped the ball or is incapable of managing her portfolio. Either way, the health and safety of patients at Fiona Stanley Hospital have been compromised.

Despite the Health Minister stating in November 2023 that tender processes for Fiona Stanley Hospital were “in progress”, Tender WA has only this week made the tender request available.

“It was only 6 months ago that the Health Minister stated in Parliament that ‘tender processes for other buildings on the FSH site are in progress, with total costs yet to be determined.

“If that was the case, then why was the tender for these works released only yesterday?

“How can Western Australians have any confidence in this government when they’re willing to say anything to appease scrutiny, even if it means providing misleading information?

Ms Mettam emphasised that ensuring vulnerable patients were safe, especially if any incident were to occur, should be the government’s priority.

“If in the unfortunate event a fire was to break out at Fiona Stanley Hospital, we have seen before how quickly the situation can get out of control due to this highly flammable cladding.

“Vulnerable patients may be incapable of getting themselves out of harm’s way if a fire outbreak were to spread too quickly. That’s why it should be a top priority of this government to get this cladding replaced.

“This simply highlights that the Health Minister’s message to Western Australians is that the health system is not a priority for the Cook Labor Government.

“With the largest boom in Western Australia’s history at their disposal this attitude is inexcusable.”