Urgent Health Care centre in doubt

Urgent Health Care centre in doubt

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External works appear to be complete, with landscaping and reticulation works currently in progress at Lot 3, 3043 Albany Highway.

There’s a dark cloud hanging over the shiny new building opposite the Armadale Hospital.

The development was approved in August 2022 – after much hand-wringing – as a medical centre which accommodates a Perth Radiological Clinic and a 1300-square-metre St John Health Urgent Care facility, “offering a comprehensive range of medical, dental and urgent care services”.

Despite the many varied objections raised, the proposal was supported by the City of Armadale and local member Tony Buti on grounds that the ‘urgent care’ part of the centre would relieve systemic clogs across the road.

“The main feature of the facility is its urgent care service for patients with emergency non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses, such as sprains, broken bones, cuts, burns, bites and eye/ear problems,” the City of Armadale’s Responsible Authority Report (RAR) reads.

“Its location, in direct proximity to the Armadale Health Campus, will assist in reducing pressure on the hospital’s emergency department through the urgent care clinic,” Mr Buti wrote in his letter of support for the development in March 2022.

Despite the emphasis on urgent care to get the project across the line, it is now this part of the development that is hanging in the balance, with St John telling The Examiner this week that it is now determining whether it can still be a part of the centre or not.

A spokesperson for St John WA explained their ‘plans’ to lease the site had ‘changed’ based on ‘a range of factors’, including ‘rising business costs’ and an Australia-wide shortage of GPs.

But their chief concern was the federal government’s refusal to officially classify Armadale as an area with doctor shortages.
The spokesperson said the classification of Armadale as a Distribution Priority Area “would have allowed for recruitment of overseas-trained GPs”, but that ‘ongoing’ attempts to ‘secure a revision’ of the decision had proved futile.

“St John WA is reviewing feasibility of a St John WA Urgent Care service in Armadale which accommodates rising business costs and a national shortage of General Practitioners,” they said.

 “St John WA remains committed to Armadale and surrounds as a priority area to ensure people have access to quality care close to where they live.”

The floor plan of the building was devised with St John and their needs in mind; the artist impressions of the centre proudly advertise the red St John signage.

 

The development application makes a point of using St John signage.

But with the building now close to completion, there’s now a massive question mark over who could fill the hole left by St John and their urgent care services if they do decide to walk away.

The Examiner sought comment from the developers, Auswide International Investments, but there was no response by the time of publishing.

The City of Armadale also declined to comment.

Member for Armadale Tony Buti stuck his neck out with his own government in order to secure the green light for the project; the biggest objector was Main Roads which was concerned about the vehicular entrance to the facility from the Albany Highway and argued that access to the medical centre should be made from streets to the rear and sides of the development.

Tony Buti is currently in talks with local federal member Matt Keogh about the issue. But, ultimately, he is hamstrung.

“St John WA is a private entity, and their Urgent Care clinics are run completely independent of the state government,” he said.

“Primary health care, including GPs, is the responsibility of the federal government, but healthcare worker recruitment is a priority for the Cook government which is why we held a roundtable specifically on the primary care sector as part of the WA Health Workforce Summit.

“We continue to advocate to the federal government for all our primary healthcare needs.”