Doctors, nurses plan Perth hospital rally


Health unions in Western Australia are yet to decide how many doctors and nurses will be allowed to walk off the job for a planned Perth hospital rally.

The Australian Medical Association and Australian Nurses Federation have called for the rally outside Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) on Tuesday to address “systemic problems”.

Health Minister Roger Cook has been formally invited to hear the concerns of doctors and nurses about the state’s public health system.

“We’re not getting him in there to boo him off the stage,” ANF state secretary Mark Olson told reporters on Sunday.

The planned rally is the latest escalation in tensions between the state government, hospital executives and staff over the death of Aishwarya Aswath.

Seven-year-old Aishwarya died at the hospital on Easter Saturday after waiting almost two hours in the emergency department before receiving treatment.

Despite sensitivities surrounding the rally, Mr Olson said a survey showed 96 per cent of its members supported the action.

“It’s quite clear that I have a mandate to call a rally,” he said.

“It’s not just PCH. It’s not just Perth. Problems exist, right across the system.”

The union is yet to decide if it will organise transport for members to attend from other hospitals across the state including Fremantle, Fiona Stanley and Rockingham.

“I’ve got calls from nurses who want to be bused in. It’s whether we decide to guarantee minimum numbers,” Mr Olson said.

The planned rally comes as the AMA followed through with its threat to refer two high-ranking health officials to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) over the handling of the tragedy.

AMA WA president Andrew Miller said PCH chief executive Aresh Anwar and WA health department director general David Russell-Weisz should face the same scrutiny from the medical watchdog as junior staff.

An AHPRA investigation should not go ahead until a planned coronial inquest and separate independent review into PCH’s emergency department are finalised, Dr Miller said.

An earlier report by WA’s Child and Adolescent Health Service found PCH emergency department staff missed a “cascade” of opportunities to escalate Aishwarya’s care as she succumbed to a fatal infection.

WA Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday reiterated his call for the warring parties to ease hostilities and allow Aishwarya’s parents to properly grieve.

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