Peel Health Campus is a marathon not a sprint, according to Health Minister Roger Cook.
Mr Cook joined executives from hospital operator Ramsay Health Care for a tour of the campus this week, following claims that Peel’s health care in in crisis.
But while the minister has confirmed the local hospital did need a physical expansion to meet the demand of the booming population, he said it would not be wise to rush any improvements.
“This isn't something which is going to happen overnight, but we are keen to get on with the planning process to make sure the hospital meets the needs of the Mandurah community,” he said.
“You want this stuff to be planned in an appropriate way, over a long period of time.
“It seems the previous government didn't do that planning so now we are in the process of having to play catch-up.”
Mr Cook’s weekday tour finished up in Peel’s emergency department – an area of particular interest in the recent campaign for hospital funding.
Despite being a Tuesday afternoon, the ED was experiencing it’s second peak for the day, and was already at 85 percent capacity.
“Obviously, you need to be able to grow the ED, but the ED is part of a functioning hospital,” Mr Cook said.
Health is a beast and it is something we need to manage over a long period of time. But it is also a very expensive beast.WA Health Minister Roger Cook
“You have to have the in-patient beds to support the ED; the radiology has to have the capacity to meet the needs of those patients. There's a whole bunch of stuff which attaches on to that, which means you can't do this stuff in piecemeal.
“You also need to see a corresponding growth in those services as well.
“You can do some expansion around the ED – as we did in 2008 – and that gives you some capacity, but ultimately at the end of the day you need to have a growth across the hospital, to make sure you have a range of services.”
Mr Cook said this was why the government’s Sustainable Health Review was so important.
Although there had been a “very clear demographic shift in the community” – with both a growing population and an ageing demographic – Mr Cook said consultation and community input was still required.
“The other thing – of course – which we were bequeathed by the former government is the lack of finances so all these things have to compete with other priorities so that we can do the right thing by the taxpayers and by the people,” he said.
“Health is a beast and it is something we need to manage over a long period of time.
“But it is also a very expensive beast, so if we're going to make a case for expansion of the hospital, I have to have a really strong case for that.”