Bed shortage pain for children s hospital
Bed shortage pain for children's hospital

Perth's new children's hospital will not have enough beds because the State Government has significantly underestimated birth rates and the number of children with chronic conditions, according to an independent review.

The analysis by a WA health economist and planner criticises key information used to plan the 298-bed hospital, describing a projected annual growth in demand of 3 per cent as "untrustworthy".

The review, commissioned by shadow health minister Roger Cook, raises fresh concerns about the capacity of the hospital, which is due to open late next year with 48 more beds than at Princess Margaret Hospital.

It says bed numbers are based on flawed projections that could underestimate birth numbers by as much as 65 per cent a year and fail to recognise WA factors such as the higher hospital needs of Aboriginal children. "The population projections seem to assume the number of additional babies born year to year will drop to 34 per cent of the average increase of the past seven years, therefore the projections for the number of children in the State will be significantly underestimated," the analysis says.

The review says the bed numbers also fail to recognise that unlike most major Australian cities, Perth does not have another children's hospital within an hour's flying time, which posed a risk to WA children in times of high demand.

Mr Cook said it added weight to the argument the hospital should have been given an extra floor.

"There was a campaign by parents who felt the hospital would not be big enough, and this goes further by providing a strong argument that challenges many of the assumptions the State Government has made," he said.

"It's building a hospital that will be too small the day it opens."

But acting director-general of health Bryant Stokes said he was confident the hospital would be big enough. Plans to boost paediatric beds in suburban hospitals, including 17 more beds at Joondalup, meant there would be less reliance on the tertiary hospital.

The West Australian

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