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Parliamentary Questions

Question On Notice No. 1713 asked in the Legislative Council on 30 October 2018 by Hon Robin Scott

Question Directed to the: Parliamentary Secretary representing the Deputy Premier; Minister for Health; Mental Health
Minister responding: Hon R.H. Cook
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

(1) Can the Minister confirm that on Friday, 9 October 2018 a Koorda resident, Mrs Mary Nicholls died of a snakebite having been flown by the RFDS to Perth after there was no antivenin available at the Wyalkatchem-Koorda and Districts Hospital (reference Kalgoorlie Miner 12 Oct 2018
(2) Can the Minister confirm that Boulder resident Andrea Williams is presently in the Charles Gardiner Hospital recovering from a stroke after having been bitten by a snake near Marvel Loch, and having been required to wait 6 hours for antivenin to be flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service from Perth, there being no antivenin available in Southern Cross, Kalgoorlie or Merredin (reference Perth Now, 27 October 2018
(3) Has the present Government inherited a policy whereby antivenin is not stored at regional hospitals?
(4) Will the Minister list all of the State's non-metropolitan hospitals, indicating which hospitals presently stock snake venom detection kits and which hospitals stock antivenin?
(5) What would be the annual cost of ensuring that all regional hospitals stock snake venom detection kits and also antivenin for tiger snakes and brown snakes?
(6) Will the Minister institute a policy of non-metropolitan residents having access to all medical services comparable with the medical services available to metropolitan residents?

Answered on 28 November 2018

I am advised that:

(1)-(2) WA Country Health Service (WACHS) is not able to provide details about individual patients due to confidentiality requirements.

(3) Guidance on the stocking of antivenom has been in accordance with the critical medicine list published by the WA Therapeutic Advisory Group (WATAG) in consultation with WA Toxicologists. Previous advice was to stock antivenom in hospitals with laboratory facilities.

(4) Snake venom detection kits are no longer used in Western Australia to assist in the identification of snake envenomation. As at 20 November 2018, all WA regional hospitals stock the recommended types and level of antivenom for their site.

(5) Snake venom detection kits are not stocked in WACHS in accordance with the advice from the WA Toxicology group and Pathwest.

The cost of current stock holding in WA regional hospitals is approximately $235,000. Annual costs are dependent on antivenom expiry dates and stock usage, which will vary from site to site.

(6) The WATAG critical medicine list includes recommendations for regional and metropolitan hospitals. As at 20 November 2018, all WA regional hospitals meet or exceed the recommended types and level of antivenoms for their site.