'It asks more questions than it answers': Minor focus on Peel in Sustainable Health Review

Plans for health in the Peel region have been questioned following the release of the Sustainable Health Review final report. Photos: Mandurah Mail file images.
Plans for health in the Peel region have been questioned following the release of the Sustainable Health Review final report. Photos: Mandurah Mail file images.

The West Australian government's plans for the future of healthcare across the state have been revealed, but the much-anticipated Sustainable Health Review report does not detail how services in the Peel region will be delivered.

The state government released the final report on April 10, detailing an ambitious major shift in the delivery of health services in WA over the next 10 years.

The government's review of the state's health system was announced in June 2017.

Since then, a number of public forums have been held around WA to hear from residents about how they see the future of healthcare, including a meeting in Mandurah in October 2017.

The final report, originally expected to be released in November 2018, provides eight strategies and 30 recommendations for change in the health system, but does not include a specific action plan for the Peel region.

Instead it highlights the need to address "pressure points" in the Peel region and emphasises the requirement to re-purpose or update existing health facilities to make use of unused capacity.

"Pressure points in the Peel-Murray region, Armadale and Bunbury will need to be addressed through consideration of any infrastructure requirements through collaborative planning with local communities, primary care and other providers," the report said.

"Changing health needs in the Peel-Murray region warrant deeper and collaborative planning with local communities, primary and aged care providers."

The Peel-Murray region has been identified as a priority in the Sustainable Health Review.

Health minister Roger Cook

Health minister Roger Cook said the future of health in the Peel region was important.

"The Peel-Murray region has been identified as a priority in the Sustainable Health Review," he said.

"Since coming into office, the McGowan Labor government have invested $10 million in Peel Health Campus.

"During over eight years, the former Liberal National government didn't spend a cent on Peel.

"Worse than that, they left the state's finance in a disgraceful state with debt that will take generations to repay."

The Peel Health Campus isn't mentioned once in Labor's 145-page Sustainable Health Review.

Canning MP Andrew Hastie

Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who has been lobbying with Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup for infrastructure expenditure and additional resources at the Mandurah hospital, said the review proved the Peel region was "not a priority" for the state government.

"The Peel Health Campus isn't mentioned once in Labor's 145-page Sustainable Health Review," Mr Hastie said.

"The closest Labor get to delivering for the Peel Health Campus are a few lines that say more planning and consideration is required for the 'Peel-Murray region'.

"Our community doesn't need more talk - we need action.

"Labor has failed to deliver for Mandurah once again."

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup echoed his federal Liberal colleague's sentiments, saying the region deserves "more than scraps."

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While there is little mention of the Peel region, the report does focus on the need for greater community-based care, hospital innovation, improved mental health services, reducing obesity and harmful alcohol levels and prevention.

The state government has already committed $26.4 million towards implementation and initial projects highlighted in the report.

More than $3 million has been allocated to the crucial first steps in planning the co-location of King Edward Memorial Hospital to the Queen Elizabeth II site in Nedlands, while an additional $23 million will fund the establishment of a Sustainable Health Review implementation support unit and four projects.

These projects will include 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.

This review must not be allowed to gather dust on a Health Department bookshelf or become a forgotten file on a computer drive.

AMA WA president Dr Omar Khorshid

Mr Cook said the report was a "comprehensive blueprint for the future".

"Without intervention, health spending is projected to reach around 38 per cent of the state budget by 2026-27, at the expense of other essential services, which is not sustainable," he said.

However, Australian Medical Association of WA (AMA WA) president Dr Omar Khorshid said the review asked more questions than it answered.

"When the Review was announced in June 2017, I welcomed it and said that health needed a 'clear plan for the future'. This has not yet been delivered," he said.

"Instead we have been handed a high-level strategic plan with little detail and no funding forecasts.

"That work still has to be done and we call on the state government to begin that planning immediately, along with adequate forward funding to allow for the implementation."

Dr Khorshid said he would like to see funding allocated to implement some of the recommendations in the state budget on May 9.

"This review must not be allowed to gather dust on a Health Department bookshelf or become a forgotten file on a computer drive," he said.

For more information or to read the Sustainable Health Review final report, visit the website.