Pregnancy and maternity care is a key systemic advocacy issue for Health Consumers’ Council. We believe that informed choices are paramount to safe maternal and newborn care, and that involving birthing people and families at all stages and at all levels is critical for improving maternity services.
Women and Babies Hospital
In April 2023, the Western Australian Minister for Health abruptly announced that the site of the new Women and Babies Hospital will be relocated to the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) precinct, and away from the site on the QEII campus that had been planned in consultations with consumers, clinicians, and other key stakeholders.
The announcement provoked a strong community reaction from maternal and infant health advocates, consumers, consumer representatives, and clinicians.
On 20 July 2023, HCC hosted an online community conversation about the decision to relocate the hospital, led by a group of consumer representatives. It was attended by 35 consumers, representatives, and clinicians.
In summary, the meeting themes were:
- Significant concerns about the apparent 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.
- Significant concerns that the new location does not allow for tri-location of maternity, neonates, and adult services, and that significant infrastructure reforms will be required to enable this gold standard of maternal newborn care at the FSH precinct. Additionally, there has been no confirmation, or even discussion, around potential upgrades to this precinct, other than the Women and Babies Hospital.
- The lack of consumer involvement in decisions about priorities for services to be located at QEII.
- The lack of information about the plan for the 40 or so babies every year who need surgery immediately after birth, who will not be in a stable condition to travel the distance between the FSH precinct and Perth Children’s Hospital.
- Concerns about the risks to infant and parent mental health – and the associated long-term impact of early childhood trauma – for families who may be separated when neonatal surgery is needed.
- Concerns that the decision to relocate to the FSH precinct was made to avoid short-term disruption without considering the long-term impacts of the location for women and babies across WA.
Overall, there was general recognition that there is not an immediately obvious “easy” solution to this issue. There was considerable frustration that wasn’t considered important to have consumer perspectives involved to help to identify the issues and be part of the solution.
Despite this frustration there was strong interest in engaging with the process going forward, to enable consumer voices to be part of the deliberative process to reach the best possible solution for the WA community.
Thank you to everyone who attended. If you would like to provide us with any feedback about the event or the relocation, please contact email@example.com
HCC will continue to advocate for consumer voices in this matter by coordinating a collective response with other consumer organisations. We will push for more information about the rationale behind the decision to relocate to the FSH precinct, and reach out to relevant government and health system parties to progress discussion about this issue.
What you can do
Contact your MP
HCC has created a template for a letter that you can send to your local member of parliament, calling on them to raise the issue of the lack of consumer engagement with the Minister for Health and pursue a collaborative solution to the issue of hospital location that will address consumer and clinician concerns, and be in the best interests of WA women and babies.
Please feel free to personalise this letter by adding your lived own experience or any additional information about the issue and your concerns.
You can download the letter template here.
You can find contact details for your local member of parliament here.
Sign the petition
Helping Little Hands and Miracle Babies Foundation, together with Libby Mettam MLA, Donna Faragher MLC and Neil Thomson MLC, have launched a petition calling on the WA Government to reverse its relocation decision.
“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 lifelong disability rates of our most vulnerable babies and it is simply incomprehensible that the two hospitals would not be built together if there is the option to do that” — Joanne Beedie, CEO of Helping Little Hands
Read more about our previous projects in this area, such as the My Baby WA app, on our archived systemic work page.
Consumer Involvement in Policy and Services
We have a Facebook Group for women and families who would like to be more involved in helping shape our services. You can join this group here.Click here for the Facebook Group