Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Delivering a healthy WA - $39million plan for winter

    1/06/2005 12:00 AM

    Up to 221 extra beds will be opened in public and private hospitals and a range of new initiatives will be implemented to help manage the increased demand in Perth’s emergency departments this winter.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the State Government had allocated $39million to fund the additional beds and initiatives for the winter months.

    “Winter is traditionally the busiest time for our hospitals so it is vital we have a range of strategies in place to cope with demand,” Mr McGinty said.

    “While the extra hospital beds are essential, other strategies are equally as important to help deal with the added pressure - particularly in hospital emergency departments.”

    The Minister said the new initiatives to help relieve pressure during the winter months included:
    • specialist care teams in emergency departments to provide alternatives to hospital admission for patients, such as ambulatory care, home nursing and respite care;
    • employment of additional junior medical staff at general and suburban hospitals;
    • ward-based discharge co-ordinators to ensure patients are discharged from hospital more efficiently to free-up hospital beds quicker;
    • Sunday discharges for patients to reduce weekday bed blockages; and
    • expansion of the State Government’s rehabilitation and nursing in the home program so more patients can be discharged from wards earlier and rehabilitated in the comfort of their own home.
    “The combination of the extra hospital beds and the new initiatives will help ease the burden on doctors and nurses in emergency departments,” Mr McGinty said.

    “Emergency department presentations this year are four to five per cent higher than last year so we must ensure that medical staff can focus on treating patients with serious and life-threatening injuries and conditions.”

    The Minister said the Government’s strategy to reduce ambulance diversion at Perth’s major hospitals was paying dividends after being introduced last winter, with diversion hours in 2005 down by more than 70 per cent.

    Between January and May this year, Perth’s major hospitals spent a total of 184 hours on ambulance diversion with just two triple diversions in five months. In the same five months last year hospitals spent 635 hours on diversion with 21 triple diversions.

    That means hospitals spent 451 fewer hours on diversion in 2005 or an average of 90 hours less per month.

    Mr McGinty said the after-hours GP clinics at Royal Perth, Fremantle, Rockingham-Kwinana and Joondalup Hospitals would also play an important role during the winter months.

    “Since opening a year ago, the four after-hours GP clinics have treated more than 18,000 patients between them,” the Minister said.

    “That is 18,000 patients with minor ailments who would ordinarily have clogged up hospital emergency departments.

    “The winter beds strategy is another example of the Gallop Government improving the quality of services to Western Australians.”

    Minister's Office - 9220 5000