About 200 patients from Royal Perth and Fremantle hospitals will be transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital in a massive operation that will involve a cavalcade of ambulances leaving every three minutes.
The relocation of patients over the next two weekends is linked to the biggest stage in the opening of the 783-bed Murdoch hospital, when its emergency department and outpatient services swing into operation from Tuesday. Because some medical specialties at Fremantle and Royal Perth are moving to Fiona Stanley Hospital, some inpatients will need to be transferred on Sunday and the following Saturday.
South Metropolitan Health Service chief executive Frank Daly said meticulous planning over almost two years had gone into the move.
"It's been precision planned down to the minute, and we know the route and the number of traffic lights we have to go through, and we have several hundred staff involved in the move of these patients," he said.
Health officials are advising people to only go to Perth's public hospital emergency departments over the next fortnight if their condition is urgent.
Professor Daly said the permanent closure of Fremantle's emergency department at 7am on Tuesday and the simultaneous opening of the new department at Fiona Stanley Hospital would put staff and services under pressure and have a ripple effect across all hospitals. Patients in Fremantle's emergency department at the time it closes would be admitted to the main part of the hospital or transferred to FSH.
"During this time, WA Health is asking the public to consider their need to visit an emergency department for minor conditions that could be better assessed by a GP," Professor Daly said.
"We need to make sure all emergency departments are kept for the very sickest patients."
He said more than 10,000 people attended metropolitan emergency departments every week and one in four could have been treated by a GP.
Professor Daly said St John Ambulance was confident it had enough vehicles and paramedics to handle the patient transfers without compromising care to call-outs.
Fremantle emergency medicine consultant Ian Dey said that patients would benefit from the bigger, state-of-the-art emergency department at FSH. He was satisfied adequate warning of the changes had been given.