Rapid review of the Independent Governance Review with a consumer/lived experience/community lens 

The report of the Independent Governance Review Panel has been noted by Cabinet and was presented to Parliament on 25 October 2022. You can read the report and the public submissions online at https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/About-us/Department-of-Health/Independent-Governance-Review-of-the-Health-Services-Act-2016

At Health Consumers’ Council we were proactive at promoting this Review as an opportunity to address some of the high-level issues experienced by consumers, people with lived experience, carers and family members. 

The report is the result of months of detailed work and will take us some time to go through in detail. We understand there will be much work required for the proposals contained in the report to be actioned. We’re sharing our rapid reflections on the report at this stage in the spirit of collaboration and shared purpose. 


From HCC’s initial reading, we see that there is much to be welcomed in the report – and some things to question further before they progress to implementation. 

 Great to see proposed: 

  • Act to be changed to require involvement of consumers on Health Service Provider (HSP) Boards, including Aboriginal people and people with mental health experience 
  • The Minister for Health is to develop a long-term health strategy 
  • A proposal that governance should evolve so that collaboration, information sharing and networking are the norm 
  • Consumers should be recognised as partners in systemwide health strategies and development of local services 
  • Establishment of collective leadership forums (consumers involved in the “advisory” forum) 
  • That the Minister for Health will develop a legislated code for consumer engagement and partnership 
  • A stronger focus on Aboriginal health and the inclusion of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA in the collaborative leadership structures of the system 
  • Refreshed role for Clinical Senate and clinical networks 
  • Creation of three commissioning authorities (north, south and east) at arms-length from HSPs – in collaboration with other commissioning bodies, including Commonwealth, National Disability Insurance Agency and local aged care authorities 
  • All data to be shared openly and transparently across DoH and HSPs unless there is a reason not to do so 
  • Public reporting of performance dashboards but… 
  • More transparent public reporting was also proposed in the Sustainable Health Review but so far hasn’t been fully implemented from that program of work 
  • Under workforce proposals it includes the development of patient-oriented roles to work alongside clinical roles and support consumer engagement and system navigation 
  • The inclusion of consumers and Aboriginal health services in the design of emergency responses including any rapid design and mobilisation of new service models. 

 More information needed/questions to be asked 

  • It is proposed that the Department of Health (DoH) provide more clear guardrails to HSPs about where HSPs do and don’t have local discretion in regard to systemwide policies. We hope this won’t mean that policy officers in DoH – many of whom have no or little experience of working in frontline clinical settings – will develop policy that HSPs will then be required to implement. 
  • Change in role for the Mental Health Commission – from commissioning to oversight. 
  • While the report signals a shift in culture from competitive to collaborative, it is silent on the mechanisms for this to be achieved. As this isn’t something that will “just happen”, we believe it needs some focused attention and resources on how this shift will occur. 
  • The report refers to building the DoH’s capability to develop major health projects – we’d like to know that this will include senior consumer involvement. We see value in a consumer lens being applied before anything progresses to procurement and being locked into contracts. 
  • It refers to an ICT Executive Board and a Digital Health Reference Group – it refers to a range of stakeholders, but no mention of consumers yet. We’d advocate for someone with a consumer lens in these discussions, noting that they would also have to have strong technical understanding. 
  • On p23, it’s noted that more training is needed on how to engage with consumers. We note that this was also a recommendation (Rec 12) for Boards in the Hugo Mascie Taylor report into the safety and quality of the system published in July 2017, but we’re not aware of any such training having taken place. What will be different to ensure these recommendations are fully progressed, and publicly reported on? 

 Opportunity missed? 

  • The report does not seem to require that DoH involve consumers/carers at the highest level of DoH governance. This is very disappointing and at odds with references elsewhere to the importance of consumer/carer/community involvement in systemwide strategic planning and discussions. For example, the MHC has had consumers and carers involved at their highest levels of governance for some time – including sitting alongside Health Service Provider Chief Executives at the Mental Health Executive Committee – but there is no sign of this being suggested for DoH. 

We will continue to review this document in detail and will be holding a rapid consumer/carer/lived experience leader briefing session on the report on Tuesday 1 November, 12pm – 1.30pm. You can register to attend this session at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/independent-governance-review-report-hcc-info-session-tickets-451041014817  

We will also reach out to the Review team to see if they will be organising any targeted briefing sessions. 

Clare Mullen, 31 October 2022