PATIENT satisfaction, balancing the budget, and staffing are major challenges for the health district in the next three years according to health professionals.
Launching the 2013-2016 strategic health plan for Western Local Health District yesterday chief executive Scott McLachlan said the plan means developing more services and closing the gaps in inequity of provision of health services, particularly for Aboriginal people.
He said, it is a balancing act to stay within the region’s allocated budget of more than $750 million each year and meet community expectations in the provision of health care.
Mr McLachlan said the WLHD will be involved in a closely monitored process of ensuring there is no duplication of services in the region which could lead to a budget blowout.
“We delivered a deficit of $19.5 million for the 2012/2013 years after budgeting for a break-even result,” he said.
He said a major focus in the three years will also be on Aboriginal health services
“Aboriginal people have a shorter life expectancy and premature mortality and I have to say these statistics are something that keep me awake at night,” he said.
Mr McLachlan went on to say utilising smaller hospitals in the region for less acute patients will ensure the survival of the major facilities and provide services closer to home.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said yesterday’s launch was a landmark with a definitive plan for the WLHD for the next three years and he congratulated all those who have been involved in the hard work associated with compiling the plan.
“This is the first time we have seen a strategic health services plan, ” he said.
However head of the Orange Medical Staff Council representing clinicians Dr Ruth Arnold said it was disappointing clinicians, and other staff members at the coalface in hospitals, who have been involved in the preparation of the plan had received no feedback and in fact had not been given access to the plan before the media and its launch yesterday.
“It is disappointing because we have been given no feedback or access to a draft plan,” she said.
Molong general practitioner an chairman of the Western NSW Local Health District board Dr Robin Williams said using smaller hospitals such as Molong for patients who did not require acute care will be the way forward for health care in the region to free up beds in major referral hospitals and treat patients closer to home.
He said some patients transferred to Molong hospital had provided feedback to the health service.
“We have been told it has a homely atmosphere,” he said.
However he said patients and their families should be assured a 24-hour service is provided by doctors for patients including palliative care patients at smaller hospitals like Molong.