Fremantle’s business community is bracing for the impact of 1,900 jobs being moved out of Fremantle Hospital next year.
In February, Fremantle’s emergency department will shut and complex medical services and emergency medicine will be transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch.
Fremantle Hospital’s executive director David Blythe has told a gathering of business and community leaders the facility’s workforce of 3,100 will drop to about 1,200.
“I think the business community was a little surprised by the extent of the change, when it’s put in numbers before them,” Dr Blythe said.
But he said the changes are part of a major reshaping of health services across the south metropolitan area.
“The services that are moving to Fiona Stanley are the more complex, high end services … such as the emergency department, cardiothoracic surgery, complex oncology and haematology work,” he said.
“That facility will have the complex infrastructure necessary to deliver those services safely and with high quality.”
He said the sharp drop in staff numbers would pose a significant challenge to Fremantle’s business community.
“It will be a significant challenge, I think, to the Fremantle CBD which has seen a number of large institutions move out in recent times,” he said.
“So the loss of a significant number of staff and the reduction in the amount of activity that’s currently happening at Fremantle Hospital will pose a challenge to the business community.”
Chamber seeks new investment to stave off economic decline
Fremantle Chamber of Commerce executive director Tim Milsom said Fremantle’s business and community leaders need to consider the economic hit the city will take from the move.
He said the city was striving to attract new investment, but conceded the loss of so many jobs from the Fremantle area will make things tough.
“Unfortunately to have our hospital, which is probably Fremantle’s biggest employer, to disappear or to downsize is a bit of a blow,” he said. Following the restructure, Fremantle Hospital is set to specialise in aged care and mental health.
Mr Milsom said that it may present growth opportunities for the city. “We should be looking at what opportunities that throws up,” he said. “If we can then go and champion Fremantle Hospital as a place to come, and almost be a centre of excellence in those two areas, [that] will then attract more people to come in and work from the space.”
Mr Milsom said that while Fremantle’s leaders found Dr Blythe’s numbers breakdown confronting, the meeting finished with a clear sense of resolve.
“There was really a positive [feeling] that the chamber and the city should be working in conjunction with the hospital to look at future opportunities,” he said.
Dr Blythe said the hospital would continue to engage with community leaders as changes occurred, starting with the closure of Kaleeya Hospital in East Fremantle in November.