Hospital faces its first big test

Fiona Stanley Hospital will have its first big test in six weeks when about 120 patients from the Shenton Park rehabilitation hospital are moved to the Murdoch campus.

Six months behind schedule, the $2 billion hospital opens on October 4 - a Saturday to minimise traffic congestion and ambulance demand.

Hospital officials say about 350 full-time staff will be on deck for phase one's opening.

It will be a huge operation when the first patients, some with spinal injuries, are ferried in by a special team, including hospital staff, St John Ambulance, the Health Department's disaster preparedness team, police and volunteers.

Chief executive David Russell-Weisz said he was confident the project was in good shape, despite setbacks with its information and communications technology that forced it to abandon a "paperless" concept and delay the opening.

He said the hospital would have a card management system to control staff access and an automated pharmacy to be rolled out over 12 to 18 months.

There would be about 5000 full and part-time staff, about 3200 of them health workers, when the hospital was fully operational in April.

The emergency department was expected to handle about 90,000 cases a year and be big enough to cope with demand when Fremantle lost its unit.

Dr Russell-Weisz said staff recruitment was continuing and he was confident of getting the numbers.

"We're obviously doing it in stages and there are some shortages but they are system shortages, not just at Fiona Stanley Hospital," he said.

"We're looking overseas and in the Eastern States but we don't have critical shortages."

Australian Nursing Federation WA secretary Mark Olson said he was sceptical.

"The State Government has mere months to get more than 3000 medical staff into Fiona Stanley if it's to keep to its own repeatedly delayed schedule," he said. "WA has already endured numerous bungles and multiple delayed openings.

"We now have a Fiona Stanley Hospital that will be difficult to staff and a terribly run-down Royal Perth Hospital amid coming nurse shortages and a State population growing by about 1000 people weekly."

The West Australian

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