Doctors and parents have labelled the State Government's decision to add a $38 million 24-bed ward to the new children's hospital as a bandaid solution that will let down WA families.
The Government has ruled out adding an extra storey costing up to $100 million, agreeing instead to reconfigure the buildings currently under construction to house 298 beds - 48 more than at Princess Margaret Hospital.
But the Australian Medical Association maintains the hospital needs another 100 beds and the only way to do that is by building an extra storey.
Premier Colin Barnett and Health Minister Kim Hames also confirmed yesterday that the $1.2 billion Nedlands facility will be called Perth Children's Hospital, the name of the original hospital that opened in Subiaco in 1909.
Dr Hames said the new ward would help free other beds for specialties such as cancer.
Though the loss of the State's AAA credit rating had put pressure on spending, State Cabinet had made the decision not to add the extra floor because it was confident capacity could be added within the current structure.
Dr Hames said with the tight financial circumstances, it was hard to justify spending $70 million more than the cost of a ward.
"We've gone through the whole Statewide plan for where paediatric services are required in the future . . . and we've made the decision we don't need the extra floor," he said. "The cost of the new floor was well over $100 million and frankly we couldn't justify spending that money."
Chairman of paediatric medicine Gervase Chaney said the new ward would give the hospital just under 300 beds and he was confident this would be enough.
Rosanna Capolingua, who chairs the Child and Adolescent Health Service's governing council, said the decision on the new ward acknowledged there was under-planning in the previous design. She was grateful for the extra capacity, but frustrated. "I have to respect that the Government probably had the will but not the money, so we will have to use every square inch of the new hospital and do our darnedest to make sure the children of WA get the care they need," Dr Capolingua said.
Shadow health minister Roger Cook said the Government was short-sighted.
AMA WA vice-president Michael Gannon said he was disappointed the Government was addressing significant concerns about capacity by "cobbling together an extra 24 beds".
"They're trumpeting the fact the hospital will now have 48 more beds than at PMH, which barely takes into account the population growth we've seen, let alone what's to come," he said.
"If the Government has economic problems it should be delaying some of its pet projects like the football stadium."
Research fundraiser Rick Parish, whose young son Elliot died of cancer, was also unimpressed.
"They're saying nothing about the extra cancer beds they admitted we need, and it looks like instead of having an over-capacity hospital that's 100 years old, we're going to have a brand new hospital that's over-capacity from the time its doors open," he said.