10/06/2013 - 14:56

Six-month delay for Fiona Stanley opening

10/06/2013 - 14:56

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Six-month delay for Fiona Stanley opening
Construction at the Fiona Stanley Hospital is 90 per cent complete.

The $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital will open in October 2014, half a year later than originally scheduled, a delay the state government has blamed on the scale and complexity of the project’s information and communication systems.

Health Minister Kim Hames confirmed the delay today, despite saying construction work was 90 per cent complete and remained on schedule and within budget.

Dr Hames said the hospital’s four-stage progressive opening plan remained in place, but would occur in October next year, rather than the original April target.

He said the hospital, once complete, would be one of the most technologically advanced in Australia.

“It will deliver new levels of patient care and convenience through an extremely complex system that will manage administration, patient information, medical records, communication and patient entertainment,” Dr Hames said in a statement.

“For doctors and nurses, that means everything they need to know about a patient can be called up bedside on a single screen - patient records, x-rays, scans, medication management and other vital medical information right at their fingertips.

“For patients, that same screen delivers television, movies and the internet to their bed - as well as giving them the ability to make video calls to family and friends outside the hospital.”

The system will require 48 kilometres of communications cabling across the hospital’s five main buildings.

The delay will force the state government to renegotiate its $4.6 billion services contract at the hospital with multi-national giant Serco, a possibility that has drawn the ire of the health sector union, United Voice.

United Voice secretary Carolyn Smith claimed hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars would be wasted because of the delay.

“Serco will expect full payment from the state government as if they are running the Fiona Stanley Hospital from April next year,” Ms Smith said.

“It will be very costly to renegotiate the contract.”

But Dr Hames told reporters this afternoon that Serco had been notified of the change to the opening schedule and the re-negotiation process had already begun.

“We have within the contract, a mitigation clause, that says if we are delayed in the opening of the hospital, there is a requirement for Serco to mitigate against those costs,” Dr Hames said.

“So what that means is that they don’t employ people for six months before we actually need them.  There will be some costs to government, but we expect it will be minimal.”

Dr Hames also shot down media speculation that the delay would add between $250,000 and $400,000 per day to the Serco contract, saying that figure was actually what the hospital's builder, Brookfield Multiplex, would have to pay the state government if it did not complete construction on time.

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