HCC Executive Director – 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM) Address
delivered 6 December 2022
It’s a privilege to have joined HCC in April this year (2022). HCC is an organisation with a strong voice built on experience, knowledge, and a proven commitment to really listening.
We are expert at creating space and conditions for people to be share experience and perspectives. We identify and act on opportunities to emphasise what we hear and learn, to influence decisions by government and health services, and create conditions for positive change.
We gained 14 new members in 2021/22, growing the HCC community of people involved in creating positive change to nearly 250, with more individuals and organisations joining each month.
In the coming year, we want to do more of what we know makes a difference to people’s lives. However, we operate in an environment where government funding to the community services sector has not kept up with wages growth and cost of operation increases. This is a hard ask. As such, we are making concerted efforts to grow and diversify our funding sources:
Providing consumer engagement expertise through projects and consultancy paid on a for-service basis.
Application to government proposing funding for expanded advocacy to reach more people who have prover health outcomes – we’re hopeful but competing with many other challenges for a finite bucket of money.
Expanding our consulting to new markets like aged care and disability services that are seeking to engage with consumers effectively and authentically.
Continuing to refine the information we collect and report to demonstrate our value and impact, which is challenging when our value is so clearly linked to relationships more than transactions and therefore much harder to measure and count. But we’re committed to keep trying.
When I started here, a statement in HCC’s strategic plan struck a chord – “learning as we go.”
Such simple words, yet so frequently they strike fear into the hearts of policymakers and funders. So, then nothing is implemented until it’s fully proven, and with governance frameworks and project schedules clearly aligned and articulated. Creativity, innovation, and consumer voice stifled by bureaucratic process, leading to “faux design” rather than co- design.
I feel like there’s a change afoot. The commitments of key reforms like SHR, of which my predecessor Pip Brennan was a driving force of consumer voice, recognise that what’s gone before isn’t working and it’s time for something new.
Doing new and different things requires a commitment to trying, learning, refining, doing, and learning, trying, and doing some more. At HCC we are small enough to be agile, responsive, and innovative while robust enough to be credible, reliable, and respected. These are the qualities that will see HCC step forward with confidence into 2023.
Suzanna Robertson | Executive Director, December 2022
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.
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 forgroups of people with complex conditions whoare frequent presenters to hospital.
Recommendation 17: Implement a new funding and commissioningmodel for the WA health system from July 2021focused on quality and value for the patient andcommunity, 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 existingpride, compassion and professionalism of staff tosupport collaboration for change
Recommendation 26:Build capability in workforce planning andformally partner with universities, vocationaltraining institutes and professional colleges toshape the skills and curriculum to develop thehealth 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)