An article published in The Medical Journal of Australia on the 13th October has revealed the highly concerning revelation that Western Australia has the lowest number of Intensive Care Unit beds on a per capita basis with just 6.0 beds per 100,000 Western Australians.
This compares to 10.8 ICU beds per 100,000 people in NSW and is well below the national average of 8.5.
By comparison the Northern Territory has 8.1 per 100,000, 7.9 in Queensland and 9.1 in South Australia.
According to the report the number of available ICU beds has decreased from 6.7 ICU beds per 100,000 since last year.
The report highlights that concerns regarding equipment such as ventilators has now been addressed, however it points out that ICU bed capacity and more importantly the available staff to support them is now a major barrier to responding to COVID and ensuring pre-pandemic models of care.
“With so little COVID in the community and every chance to prepare, it’s extraordinary the WA’s ICU bed capacity is behind every other state,” said Shadow spokesperson for Health Libby Mettam.
“We have less beds in ICU now than we did 12 months ago, and the lowest per capita in the nation, which flies in the face of the Minister for Health’s promise to be battle ready for COVID.
“This report also points to the experience during COVID outbreaks in other countries such as the US and Europe stating that outcomes for patients were significantly poorer if they needed to adopt to “surge approaches,” which unfortunately seems to be the approach this government is taking.
“We have a budget surplus, have had over 20 months with little COVID in the community and every opportunity to ensure our hospitals were prepared for a COVID outbreak.
“It is shocking to see the McGowan Government have dropped the ball on our ICU response, instead relying on surge capacity which will lead to poorer patient outcomes.
“The MCGowan Government have had the best chance to prepare, we should be in a better position to support our most vulnerable patients.
“The report highlights staff shortages as being a major challenge in ensuring beds are available online, underlining the concern that this Government have dragged their feet on health worker and in particular nursing recruitment, which will put lives at risk.”