Today’s announcement of extra beds and staff to deal with a COVID outbreak is a welcome 11th hour commitment from a Labor government that has been dragging its feet on preparing our health system, according to the
Opposition.

Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said while she welcomed the announcement and any commitment that would improve the state of the health system, she questioned why it had taken so long and why it was only
happening now.

“The WA Labor Government has had 21 months to prepare the health system and make sure it was “battle ready” for when the COVID “storm” hits, as the Health Minister said it would be last March,” Ms Mettam said.

“Instead they’ve been dragging their feet, relying on a closed border and telling West Australians they are going to “crush and kill the virus” instead of implementing on the ground measures to make sure we are ready when, not if, this virus arrives.

“This lack of planning has also resulted in WA being the only state with no clear plan of when and how it will re-open to the rest of the nation.”

Ms Mettam said it was astounding this commitment wasn’t a priority 21 months ago.

“We know the government have bought the extra ventilators to deal with a surge capacity when there is an outbreak and I question why this commitment for extra beds and staff to nurse those COVID cases wasn’t made at
the same time?

“It was revealed in Estimates last month that they have only just started upskilling nurses at Royal Perth Hospital to be able to nurse ventilated staff and the second lot of upskilling won’t start until the end of the year.

“If they had made this commitment to extra beds and nurses 21 months ago or even 12 months ago, those staff would already be in the system and ready to go.

“Instead, three months out from when the border may open, we are only now trying to ensure we have the physical beds and specialist staff to cope with any surge in cases.

“The government has squandered the ‘gift of time’ and the opportunity to ensure our health system is fully prepared for the pandemic.”

Ms Mettam said Western Australians have consistently done everything the WA Labor Government has asked with respect to restrictions and they have been let down by a complacent government more intent on penny pinching and posting surpluses than planning for the inevitable.

“I welcome the commitment and hope that this eases the pressure on some of those frontline health workers that have been consistently being asked to do more with less amid record ambulance ramping and constant Code
Yellows due to a lack of beds.”