The West

Govt 'ignored' hospital delays

A litany of risks to the Fiona Stanley Hospital delivery timeframe were detailed in a high-level Health Department report in December 2012, but the Government continued to tout the project as "on time and on budget" ahead of the election.

The Opposition today released leaked extracts of a document titled FSH Baseline Schedule Report, which it claimed as evidence of wilful ignorance or outright deception on the part of the Government before the March 2013 poll.

Health Minister Kim Hames’ defence for not telling the public about the delays suspected by key Health Department and Treasury figures before the election is that former Health director-general Kim Snowball assured him the risks could be overcome.

But the baseline schedule report released today raises questions over why Mr Snowball continued to retain the view that FSH could still open as promised in April 2014.

The report, compiled by the Health bureaucrat hand-picked by Mr Snowball to commission FSH, David Russell-Weisz, contains nearly a dozen warnings of serious threats to the timeframe.

It contains phrases like “No clear plan exists for obtaining the correct workforce for FSH and the required transition planning has not been undertaken; Detailed operational planning at a departmental and service level is behind schedule; Only 9 out of 81 departmental service plans (are) complete and in a near-comprehensive format, although none obtain detailed workforce requirements”.

Mr Snowball told a parliamentary committee investigating delays to FSH last November that he did not agree with the report partly because it was marked “confidential, draft and not for circulation”.

As the chair of a health infrastructure steering committee comprising the departments of Health, Treasury, Planning, Premier and Cabinet and the State Solicitor, Mr Snowball was ultimately responsible for reporting to Cabinet.

On January 14, 2013 Dr Hames put out a press release describing FSH as on time and on budget and re-committing to the April 2014 timeframe.

That was the last update the Government gave on the timetable ahead of the election, before revealing three months after the poll that FSH would not be fully operational until April 2015.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the leaked document showed “the Government knew there were major problems with the commissioning of FSH” before the election.

Dr Hames told Question Time he never saw the document and Mr Snowball had assessed it but continued to be of the view the deadline could be met.

The West Australian

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