Health Minister Ian Taylor has supported the decision to establish Western Australia's second heart surgery unit at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital rather than Fremantle Hospital.
Mr Taylor said an independent panel of three specialist consultants - two of whom were nominated by Fremantle Hospital - had recommended that the unit should be established at SCGH.
"The panel's recommendation clearly illustrates the reasons why SCGH was selected for the new heart surgery unit," Mr Taylor said.
"The independent consultants found that patients from Fremantle wait no longer for heart surgery than people from other areas of WA.
"The 30-minute journey from Fremantle to SCGH is no disadvantage, as more than 90 per cent of heart surgery patients have only one such operation, which is usually an elective procedure.
"The unit is in any case for the benefit of all Western Australians, not just those who live in the metropolitan area.
"The board and management and some medical staff at Fremantle Hospital had reservations about the development of heart surgery on the site.
"In comparison, the proposal to establish the unit at SCGH had the full and unanimous support of the board, hospital staff and the University of WA.
"The general level of supporting medical and nursing services, particularly anaesthetic services was, at the time of the review, superior at SCGH - according to the consultants."
Other points made by the consultants included:
· the costs of establishing the unit at Fremantle Hospital would be substantially more than $2.2 million, compared with $1.3 million at SCGH;
· SCGH has a policy of providing equal access to patients from other areas.
"The independent panel visited each site and talked at length with staff at each hospital before making their decision," Mr Taylor said.
"They recommended that only one additional heart surgery unit should be established for WA at this stage, and that it should be at SCGH.
"I can understand the disappointment of those people who hoped the decision would favour Fremantle - but it is clear that SCGH is the better venue for the establishment of WA's second heart surgery unit.