AMA (WA) launches its Action Agenda 2021 to fix hospital crisis | AMA (WA)

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AMA (WA) Action Agenda 2021

AMA (WA) launches its Action Agenda 2021 to fix hospital crisis

Saturday August 28, 2021

Australian Medical Association of Western Australia

The depths of Western Australia’s hospital crisis have been confirmed, with the most recent data on public hospital beds per capita indicating our State now has the lowest number available in Australia.

Worse, WA has had the sharpest decline in the number of available public hospital beds per capita, compared to 2018-19.

AMA (WA) President Dr Mark Duncan-Smith said it was an indictment of a crumbling system that demanded immediate solutions – a dire state of affairs which has led to the creation of the AMA (WA) Action Agenda 2021, a document that provides a pathway forward.

“Despite continued advocacy over the past four years on hospital capacity by the AMA (WA), the endless lines of ramped ambulances and the growing elective surgery wait lists in WA’s public hospitals, the State Government has failed to address the crisis, which is now spiralling out of control,” Dr Duncan-Smith said.

“WA needs to increase capacity by 612 public hospital beds to meet the national average of 2.47 beds per capita.”

Dr Duncan-Smith said the damning statistics put into sharp relief the 332 beds announced by the State Government as part of their health package for the State Budget to be delivered on 9 September.

“While this focus on the health system is welcome, we can see the extent of the spiral we find ourselves in,” he said.

“Optimum conditions are rapidly receding from the horizon and outcomes are getting far worse.

“There needs to be an immediate and fairly drastic intervention to arrest system decline.”

The establishment of another benchmark in ambulance ramping this week simply underlines the chronic problems doctors are now dealing with every day in public hospitals, Dr Duncan-Smith said.

“We have already set a new ‘record’ level of ramping this week with days to go and the figure looks set to well and truly pass 6,000 ramped hours this month,” the AMA (WA) President said.

“What’s the plan here? Do we just accept another blowout? 6,000 hours means ambulances have been waiting in queues for the equivalent of eight months in just one.

“Ambulances aren’t set up to be used as mobile hospital units; they are a means of conveyance for sick people to receive the care they are entitled to in a public hospital. The abrogation of this role to ambulance staff is an outrageous neglect of this primary task of our healthcare system.”

Dr Duncan-Smith said the AMA (WA) was constantly considering the best way to address these matters through its advocacy and consultation, and the AMA (WA) Action Agenda 2021 presents viable solutions that will prevent system collapse.

“The AMA (WA) Action Agenda 2021 is a detailed, 15-point document covering five major areas: Funding & Resourcing; Culture & Safety; Infrastructure; Governance; and COVID-19,” he said.

“Importantly, these are practical measures we believe could be enacted quickly and which would lead to immediate change with far-reaching positive outcomes for the health of all Western Australians.

“We are proud to have launched this document and look forward to prosecuting its agenda through public forums and our ongoing engagement with the State Government.” Read the AMA (WA) Action Agenda 2021 here.

Average Available Public Hospital Beds Per Capita – 2019-20.


NT 3.97
Tas. 2.75
ACT 2.7
SA 2.59
NSW 2.56
Qld. 2.53
Australia Average 2.47
Vic. 2.27
WA 2.24


Source: AIHW, Hospital Resources 2019-20 (August 2021)


Please contact AMA (WA) Media on 0407 986 308 or via email for further information on this issue.