Parents of sick children have won their battle for more resources and staff at Princess Margaret Hospital, with the State Government pledging $35 million over four years to WA's paediatric and cancer services.
It will give PMH an extra $3.7 million a year to recruit another 24 doctors, nurses and other health staff, as well as two cancer specialists, including a paediatric transplant haematologist to support the children's bone marrow transplant program.
Money will also go to a new chronic pain service, weekend emergency theatre services, and the intensive care unit so it can treat the increasing number of children needing heart and other complex surgery.
Other departments to get extra funds are gastroenterology, and immunology which has long waiting lists for children with allergies. More than $20 million over four years will employ 14 new cancer staff, including two extra radiation oncologists at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital to treat adults and children.
Health Minister Kim Hames said the funding was the result of a hospital-wide review, after families and senior staff complained about a lack of resources and waiting lists for treatment, particularly for cancer.
"I knew there were problems within the staffing of oncology, particularly a time when staff were on leave, but I wasn't aware the problem was as severe as it was, and that was made clear to me in subsequent meetings with doctors," Dr Hames said.
The review found other areas in the hospital with significant pressures and critical shortages.
A separate $300,000, mostly raised by the PMH Foundation, was funding 60 chairs for waiting areas, 40 recliners, 26 chairs for parents, eight blood pressure machines, five fold-out beds, five intravenous medication poles, televisions and furniture for parent lounges. But Dr Hames would not be drawn on the issue of increasing bed capacity at the new children's hospital being built in Nedlands, saying that decision was still a few weeks away.
PMH's chairman of paediatric medicine Gervase Chaney said the upgrade would relieve pressure on the hospital.
"We've certainly needed a boost in funding and this will make an enormous difference to our delivery of services for the children of this State," he said.
Telethon Adventurers' fundraiser Rick Parish welcomed the move but said he would keep lobbying the Government about its cancer pledges and the capacity of the new hospital. It was a win for "parent power" and cancer patients such as four-year-old Archie Caldow, who last year had to travel interstate for radiation treatment because WA's then sole specialist went on holiday.
"If mums and dads hadn't started waving their hands about we wouldn't have this result," Mr Parish said. Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said it did not solve the problem of the new children's hospital being too small.
"If anything, with these extra services and staff we will need a bigger hospital than what is planned," he said.