In April 2023 the WA Minister for Health made a surprise announcement that the new Women’s and Newborns Hospital – previously planned to be on the QEII site alongside Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital – would be located in Murdoch, alongside the Fiona Stanley Hospital.
Despite being contacted at that time by a senior WA Health member to reassure us that there would be significant consumer involvement as this work unfolded, we then didn’t hear anything until we followed up in June. At that time it became clear that there had been no consumer input to this new decision. And none since the announcement in April.
We’ve since been in discussion with a group of consumers who have been very involved in early consultations who raised a number of concerns. We have raised these with the Minister for Health and senior WA Health staff. We also held a consumer event on 20 July to gather more views and raise people’s awareness of what we know.
This is the presentation we went through at that event
We had a rich discussion at that event which has been fed back to the project team:
- There are significant concerns about the apparent complete absence of any consumer involvement or input to inform this decision – it’s very disappointing that clinical engagement is well underway but there has been no engagement with consumers so far.
- People were also concerned that it has not been possible to find out what clinical input there was to inform this decision. The conclusion being reached is that there wasn’t any. This is very concerning to consumers as it doesn’t give confidence that clinical concerns.
- Significant concerns that the proposed position will mean significant infrastructure reforms to enable the gold standard of tri-location of maternity, neonates and adult services.
- The options raised at the meeting included moving PCH to the FSH campus and upgrading OPH to ensure it has the additional clinical services necessary for high quality maternity care (and avoiding repeating the issues at KEMH being an isolated maternity hospital)
- It wasn’t clear in our discussion how this work would be less disruptive than the original plan
- The lack of consumer involvement in decisions about priorities for services to be located at QEII
- We heard that there are plans to site a new UWA Medical School on the QEII campus as well as the planned Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
- There was a sense that while these are obviously important, the rationale for prioritising their position on the QEII campus over enable tri-location of services was not clear.
- The lack of information about the plan for the 40 or so babies needing surgery within hours of birth.
- Concerns about the risks to infant and parent mental health – and the associated long-term impact of early childhood trauma – for families needing access to neonate surgery
Separate to the meeting, we also received one consumer comment that they were supportive of improved access by public transport to the FSH site, particularly for people with disabilities.
Overall, there was general recognition that there is no immediately obvious “easy” solution to this issue. There was considerable frustration that it hasn’t been considered important to have consumer perspectives involved to help to identify the issues and be part of the solution generation.
The hospital project team are keen to seek broad consumer input. HCC will be facilitating a small group discussion in early September to explore what real engagement with consumers going forward could look like. Later there will be another discussion with consumers to discuss the implications of the planned move to this new location.
If you would like to be kept informed about this work, contact Jasmina Brankovich, HCC’s Policy and Systemic Advocacy Lead at email@example.com
Clare Mullen, August 2023