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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 333 asked in the Legislative Council on 2 April 2020 by Hon Charles Smith

Minister responding: Hon R.H. Cook
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on


333. Hon CHARLES SMITH to the parliamentary secretary representing the Minister for Health:

I refer to a statement made this week by the state government that it had ordered more than $15 million worth of clinical equipment, including ventilators and ICU beds, to boost the WA public health system's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

(1) When are all these additional ventilators and ICU beds expected to be delivered and deployed in Western Australian hospitals?

(2) How does WA compare with other states in terms of ICU beds and ventilators per capita?

(3) Given that the risk of a coronavirus pandemic became known in January, following the outbreak in China, why was the order for additional ventilators and ICU beds not placed earlier?

(4) Does the state government consider it acceptable that Western Australia is totally reliant on imported medical equipment and is subject to global supply delays and disruptions during a crisis situation?


I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1) As at 2 April 2020, 301 additional ventilators are on order. Of the 301 ventilators, 51 units are expected to be received by mid-April, with the remaining 250 units anticipated in June. An order of 500 low acuity emergency relief ward beds is expected to be received by late April 2020.

(2) Western Australia cannot comment on the appropriate number of ICU beds in other states. Western Australia is planning for the appropriate resources required in WA to manage any surge in patient numbers.

(3) The Department of Health has closely monitored the pandemic since the outbreak was reported in early January in China. The WA public health emergency operations centre was activated in January to coordinate the state response to this incident. The response to the risk of the coronavirus pandemic has been in line with the WA state emergency management plan.

(4) Medical equipment is supported by a complex supply chain and Australian industry does not currently have significant capacity to perform these end-to-end functions. When possible, the Department of Health regularly conducts public tender processes for local businesses to meet equipment needs, including ongoing maintenance of key equipment. To reduce the risk associated with overseas supply chains, key strategies are in place, including the diversification of the supply chain and alternating the country of origin; holding a level of redundancy equipment with the WA health system; placing forward orders for replacement of equipment; and holding emergency stock as part of arrangements with the Department of Health's disaster preparedness and management unit.