In November 2022, Health Consumers’ Council staff attended a WA Health Leadership breakfast with the Minister for Health and Mental Health, Amber-Jade Sanderson, for an update on the Sustainable Health Review (SHR).
After a slow start to implementation, and the disruptions caused by COVID, it was great to hear the Minister reiterate the Government’s commitment to the SHR and its implementation. The Minister was firm in her view that the SHR is about:
- an equitable patient-centred system
- a health system, not a hospital system
- giving a voice to consumers.
She reminded attendees that the SHR outlined the need for courage, collaboration and systems-thinking.
We heard that while WA’s COVID response demonstrated the robustness of the WA health system, it also highlighted its fragility in some areas. The Minister was clear that as we now live with COVID, it’s not about snapping back to how things were before – but that it’s time to make sure that the health system’s actions match community needs.
She outlined that a key priority is addressing emergency access to care – which is a focus for a Ministerial Task Force that was established earlier this year.
Tim Marney, Chief Economist at Nous Consulting, and Chair of the Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) for the SHR then spoke about how the focus for the IOC is very much on delivery. There will be a new focus on implementation.
As part of that, it has been agreed to provide focused support to a smaller number of recommendations (there are 30 in total in the SHR) to enable implementation to be accelerated in these critical areas:
- Recommendation 11: Improve timely access to outpatient services through:
a) Moving routine, non-urgent and less complex specialist outpatient services out of hospital settings in partnership with primary care.
b) Requiring all metropolitan Health Service Providers to progressively provide telehealth consultations for 65 per cent of outpatient services for country patients by July 2022.
- Recommendation 13: Implement models of care in the community for groups of people with complex conditions who are frequent presenters to hospital.
- Recommendation 17: Implement a new funding and commissioning model for the WA health system from July 2021 focused on quality and value for the patient and community, supporting new models of care and joint commissioning
- Recommendation 22: Invest in a phased 10-year digitisation of theWA health system to empower citizens withgreater health information, to enable access
to innovative, safe and efficient services; andto improve, promote and protect the health of Western Australians.
- Recommendation 23: Build a systemwide culture of courage, innovation
and accountability that builds on the existing pride, compassion and professionalism of staff to support collaboration for change
- Recommendation 26: Build capability in workforce planning and formally partner with universities, vocational training institutes and professional colleges to shape the skills and curriculum to develop the health and social care workforce of the future
Tim was clear to point out that this did not signal that the other recommendations were less important and reiterated that work on these would continue.
He also highlighted that a number of the recommendations including Recommendation 3 with a focus on health equity and Recommendation 4 with a focus on citizen and community partnership – and for which Suzanna Robertson, HCC’s Executive Director is a co-lead – should be seen as underpinning all the other recommendations.
Health Consumers’ Council continue to advocate for targeted consumer and lived experience partnership and involvement in all the SHR work and look forward to learning more about how this will work for the six prioritised recommendations.
(By Clare Mullen, Deputy Director, Health Consumers’ Council)