Warnings on FSH known pre-election

Fresh details emerged yesterday of the extent of warnings within Government about delays to Fiona Stanley Hospital before the State election in March last year, when voters were promised a facility "on time and on budget".

The Opposition released leaked excerpts from a December 2012 report prepared by FSH commissioning chief executive David Russell-Weisz providing reasons why he did not think the hospital could open in April this year, as promised.

Former Health director-general Kim Snowball told a parliamentary committee in November that he did not agree with the report, partly because it was marked "confidential, draft and not for circulation".

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

The Russell-Weisz report, which has been provided to the parliamentary committee but not released publicly before yesterday, raises fresh questions over why Mr Snowball continued to think the deadline could be met.

"No clear plan exists for obtaining the correct workforce for FSH and the required transition planning has not been undertaken," the report said.

Other comments included: "Detailed operational planning at a departmental and service level is behind schedule" and "Only nine out of 81 departmental service plans (are) complete and in a near-comprehensive format, although none obtain detailed workforce requirements".

In January last year, Dr Hames issued a press release describing FSH as "on time and on budget" and recommitting to the April opening time frame.

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 next year.

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 Parliament he never saw the document and Mr Snowball had assessed it but "concluded the project could be retrieved and delivered on time".

The West Australian

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