Parliamentary Speech: The Crisis With WA Health

I have spoken many times in this chamber calling on the former Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan, to fix our hospital system. We now have a new man running the WA government. It falls to a new Premier to answer these urgent pleas. Despite WA's economic surplus, our hospitals are broken. Labor's healthcare record in WA is a disaster.

The Peel Health Campus, my local hospital, has one of the worst emergency waiting times in the nation. Just before Christmas last year, ambulance ramping hit an all-time high. The WA Labor Government has repeatedly promised upgrades, but a few weeks ago the Health Minister confessed that these urgent improvements won't begin for another year—more excuses, more delays.

This brings me to the new Premier, Roger Cook, who happens to be a former health minister. Many residents in the northern areas of Canning have shared their concerns with me about Armadale Hospital. When he was health minister in 2021, there were reports of 30 desperate patients queueing in the street outside for hours before they were finally let into an overcrowded emergency department. The same day at Armadale Hospital, an elderly man struggling to breathe in the crowded ED, was left in a corridor and told no beds were available in the hospital. At the time, the former Australian Nursing Union boss, Mark Olson, said overflowing hospitals, patients in corridors and nurses not being backfilled on sick leave had been the norm. He stressed that the State's healthcare system was "the worst I've ever seen". All this was under the watch of the man who is now the WA Premier.

Rockingham Hospital, in the nearby electorate of Brand, is also no stranger to WA Labor's hospital mismanagement. In 2016, the year prior to the election of WA State Labor, ambulance ramping was at a total of 509 hours. In 2022, after nearly six years of Labor, ramping has exploded to 4,284 hours. That's a total of 177 days that patients spent waiting to get into the emergency department and into a bed.

The crisis in our health service runs far and wide. In the words of the Western Australia AMA President, Dr Mark Duncan-Smith, "WA may be the richest state, but our health system is the sickest".

My concerns do not lie with our dedicated nurses, doctors and hospital staff. They consistently go above and beyond, often in challenging circumstances. We are blessed to have some of the best healthcare workers in the world. But they need the best resources to provide the best possible solution and care for our community. When Mark McGowan resigned, he said, 'The truth is I am tired, extremely tired. In fact, I am exhausted.' A nurse told me the other week that that's a meme going around WA hospitals and they put that up reflecting their own state of mind—they are tired and they need more support from the WA State Government.

It's all within the power of one man, Roger Cook, the new Premier. I am calling on him to deliver better health services for our state.