Building for our Kids’ Health

Sep 15
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As Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) nears completion, there are many lessons we have learnt along the way; and we also have the benefit of insights gained through the recent commissioning of other tertiary paediatric and adult hospitals both in Australia and overseas.

Clinician engagement

One thing that has been paramount from the start; clinician engagement is critical.  We are fortunate in having a clinician workforce that has been involved in the current facility, Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), for many years and there is a strong sense of ownership and the heritage of PMH.

We have faced the challenge that all infrastructure projects of this type face; keeping the clinicians engaged over a relatively long period while the facility is built.  It’s not a consistent dialogue during the lifetime of an infrastructure project like this and our engagement with clinicians has ebbed and flowed.  We sought their views early on during the planning of the building and there is now a lot of work taking place around workflow integration which will escalate as we move into commissioning.  But did we engage with them well enough during the building of the facility? Possibly not, but I think we did as much as we could to maintain that dialogue during the build period and within the demands of clinicians’ workloads and day-to-day clinical commitments.

Clinical leadership

The involvement of senior clinicians in this project has been critical from the start. Clinical leaders have been integrated into the PCH Project team to ensure that the needs of hospital-based clinical staff remain central to planning across the new hospital. Clinical project leaders form a strong link between their colleagues in the hospital and the wider planning team.

Clinical leadership has been critical and we have attempted to master this by having clinical leaders integrated in the PCH Project team, working with hospital clinicians on specific tasks around the planning for the new hospital.  As the project has progressed, it has been increasingly important to ensure that existing staff at PMH are leading and implementing the necessary clinical reforms to ensure we deliver care that is at least as good, if not better, from day one at the new hospital.

ICT and FFE integration

ICT and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) remain key challenges for us, and for all health infrastructure projects, whatever the scale.  The complexity of the work involved must not be underestimated as it cascades into every part of the project and is so interrelated.  A design for the integration of ICT and FFE is critical and a coordinated program is needed to master these challenges. 


While we are moving one paediatric tertiary facility, PMH, to another, PCH; this is not a ‘lift and shift’ process and convincing staff of this has been a challenge.  Yes, we are moving our current service to a new location; but we are moving into a new building where the layout, workflows, ICT and infrastructure will be very different and it will not be ‘business as usual’ for any team.  Everything will be new for our staff; how they get to work, where they park, the layout of their department or ward, the equipment they use, and how they interact with every service throughout their work day. 

The challenge here has been around planning our workforce for the new hospital and building it from the bottom up, based around the needs of the new facility while getting a detailed understanding of the costs involved.  Where we can, we are bringing in new ways of working now, while at PMH, to ensure that new practices are embedded before we move.  There is a limit to what we can do around this and the scale of change from day one at PCH, for every staff member, will be immense.  It is our responsibility to equip staff with orientation, training and familiarisation with the new facility to support them in this change process.  That is our commitment to staff and for me as Chief Executive, it remains my highest priority. 

I continue to be excited by this challenge as we move PMH to a new facility after 106 years of service to the children and families of Western Australia. A new facility that will bring unprecedented levels of technology, innovation and best practice design.  And now, the next challenge awaits; commissioning the new facility and opening day.

Prof Frank Daly will be speaking on ‘Understanding the complexities of commissioning’ at the Planning & Delivering Healthcare Infrastructure Conference this November. Book your place by October 2nd to save $200 on ticket prices!

Healthcare Infrastructure

Submitted by Prof Frank Daly

Prof Frank Daly

Prof Frank Daly is Acting Chief Executive, Perth Children’s Hospital Commissioning, WA.

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