Janine Freeman MLALabor Member for Mirrabooka

Your local Labor MP

Three years, Three reports, just two extra child health nurses

Monday 29 Aug 2011

 

Since 1 July 2010 only two additional full time child health nurses have been appointed in Western Australia.

"This brings the total number of child health nurses to 198, despite a Health Department  admission that more than 300 child health nurses must be employed to meet the needs of children," Ms Freeman said.

"This enormous shortfall is simply not acceptable when the health needs of WA children are at risk of not being met."

Labor Spokesperson for Early Childhood Years, Linda Savage said Health Minister Kim Hames gave an undertaking to 'go cap in hand' to treasury to ensure funding was made available to employ more child health nurses but there were no additional funds in the May budget.

"If the Minister did actually make pleas to the Treasurer for more funding, then he has failed to be persuasive," she said.

"He must have failed to mention the three Parliamentary reports on child health tabled in the past three years and warnings from eminent child health experts on the consequences of neglecting child health.

Ms Savage said a report by the Auditor General last year found many children are now missing out on the essential key health checks between birth and school entry.

"After the age of 8 months parents are now being advised to make appointments only if they have specific health concerns, and then they may have to wait up to 6 weeks for an appointment," Ms Savage said.

"This is a real concern because the best time to detect problems such as speech and language difficulties and to provide intervention is at the 18 month check."

Ms Savage said that after failing to secure funding for new child health nurses and receiving three reports on the issue the Barnett Government has responded by commissioning another report.

"It seems the Barnett Government has decided they need another report to tell them what they already know; they have dropped the ball badly on child health," she said.

"WA children do not need a new report from the Government, they need action and I call on the Health Minister to stop his procrastination and make the funding available to employ more child health nurses."