Emergency Access Reform Ministerial Taskforce

In May 2022 the Premier of WA launched a package of reforms to improve emergency care in WA. This included setting up a Ministerial Taskforce on this issue, led by the Minister for Health. (Read more about that announcement here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2022/05/New-252-million-dollar-reform-package-to-improve-WA-emergency-care.aspx)

Health Consumers’ Council (HCC) were approached to join the Project Control Group for this work. Clare Mullen, HCC’s Deputy Director, sits on this group.

Through our role in this group, HCC is advocating for consumer and carer involvement in work that will be taking place at each health service to identify ways to reduce pressure on Emergency Departments and to make sure the WA community is able to access the right healthcare, in the time place, at the right time.

This could include identifying clinically appropriate alternative treatment options as people enter the health service – meaning people who don’t need emergency treatment don’t have to wait unnecessarily in an ED waiting room, or in an ambulance outside the hospital. It could also include supporting timely discharge from hospital to other appropriate services when someone no longer needs specialist medical treatment.

Areas of focus

This program is very wide-reaching. It’s about how people arrive at, move through, and move out of a hospital setting.

It covers how someone might end up at an Emergency Department (ED), how they move from the ED to a ward (or leave the ED to go home), and how they get discharged from the hospital eventually.

The focus on people leaving hospital is to make sure that people aren’t staying in hospital any longer than they need to BUT that if people need additional support or care, that this is in place before they leave the hospital.

There are particular groups of people whose experience is the initial focus for this work:

  • people living in residential aged care facilities who need healthcare
    • often people in this situation come to ED by ambulance, but may not need Emergency care. The program will be looking at how to make sure people get the care they need in the right part of the system for them.
  • older people who may have come to the hospital from their own home, but who will be discharged into an aged care facility because they need more support than can be provided for them at home
    • sometimes people may have discussed this possibility with their family already, but in many cases that’s not the case – so how can people and their families get the support they need, and make sure that they are able to be transferred out of hospital when they no longer need hospital-level care – but do need some kind of care
  • people with disability who may need additional support to be able to return to their home after a hospital stay

Health services are looking at a range of options – including virtual emergency medicine and other alternatives to emergency departments – to try to make sure that the people who really need the intense level of healthcare that is provided in an emergency department can access that care promptly.

HCC is particularly keen to ensure that patient experience measures are included as key indicators alongside some of the measures the track the way someone makes their way through the system and how quickly that happens.

Opportunities for consumers to be involved in this work

We held a community conversation on 6 February 2023 on this topic with the Department of Health team so that consumer, carer, community and lived experience representatives could find out more about the work that is planned as part of this program.

We heard from Dr Shelley Campos, Clinical Lead for the program, and Hannah Moss, Program Manager.

Picture of Shelley Campos, Clinical Lead, Emergency Access Reform program and Hannah Moss, Program Manager

HCC has been funded by the WA Department of Health to establish a consumer network of people with an interest in relevant areas to this program. There will be an opportunity to express interest in being part of a network that will receive invitations to be involved in a range of ways. This could including responding to a survey, sharing your experience of emergency care, or being discharged from hospital, or being a representative on a working group or committee.

To be notified when this opportunity is open, email kieran.bindahneem@hconc.org.au

[Last updated 18/02/23]

ID: stethoscope on a desk