Sustainable Health Review provides ambitious blueprint for the future of health care in Western Australia

The WA Government has welcomed the Sustainable Health Review (SHR) Final Report, and endorsed its eight enduring strategies and 30 recommendations for change in the Western Australian health system.

The SHR provides an ambitious blueprint for rebalancing the health system over the next 10 years to ensure that Western Australians receive quality health care that can be sustained for future generations.

This report will drive a cultural shift to focus on prevention and community care supported by a modern hospital system. The SHR highlighted that seven per cent of all hospital admissions are potentially avoidable, and in 2018 200,000 attendances at hospital emergency departments could be dealt with in a primary care setting.

Priority will be placed on halting the rise in obesity and reducing harmful alcohol levels, which are risk factors for many chronic conditions. The SHR calls for five per cent of total health expenditure to be spent on prevention by 2029, and sets the target for WA to have the highest percentage of population with a healthy weight of all States in Australia within a decade.

The WA Government will commit $26.4 million towards SHR implementation and initial projects, with $3.3 million allocated to the crucial first steps in planning the co-location of King Edward Memorial Hospital to the QEII site in Nedlands.

The additional $23.1 million will fund the establishment of a SHR implementation support unit and four projects including:

  • The Home First model of care supporting people who do not require an acute hospital bed to return home for assessment by the right type of clinician at the right time;
  • A ‘one-stop-shop’ for children, young people and their families where they can access child health, development and mental health services, as well as other government agencies such as education and community services;
  • A 20-bed medical respite centre to provide clinical care to homeless people who may otherwise be admitted to hospital; and
  • A Safe Café where people with non-acute mental health issues can receive support and advice in a supportive environment, after hours.

The SHR highlights the need for a key focus on mental health services. Putting patients first by increasing mental health care has been a key focus of the WA Government with a record annual investment of $918.4 million in 2018-19, an increase of 2.6 per cent in comparison to 2017-18.

The report identifies significant shortfalls in Commonwealth health care funding, notably in for primary and aged care, and calls for a new model that provides a fair share for health care in Western Australia.

The SHR also highlights the need for early development and expansion plans to address health system pressure points in the Peel region, Bunbury and Armadale. It also emphasises the need to use infrastructure well, repurpose or update existing health facilities to make use of unused capacity.

There is a focus on innovation and digital health care with a recommendation that 65 per cent of outpatient consultations for regional patients use telehealth services by 2022.

A continued focus on patient outcomes and experience should be supported through improvements to public reporting and by involving consumers and carers in planning, design and evaluation of services.

The Department of Health and Health Service Providers will spend the next three to six months planning implementation of the recommendations, which will be overseen by an Independent Oversight Committee reporting to the Minister, whose members will soon be appointed.

Source: WA Government