The Western Australian Government has announced the establishment of a State Health Operations Centre (SHOC) to enhance emergency care coordination and monitoring.
The initiative, which is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to reduce bed block and ambulance ramping, will be funded with over $74.9 million of new and continuing initiatives in the 2023-24 State Budget, in addition to the $377.9 million previously committed to addressing pressure on emergency departments since the 2021-22 Budget.
SHOC was included in last year’s Budget business case planning and will be implemented in line with the government’s strategy to address bed block and ambulance ramping.
It will deliver four major reforms, including establishing a Western Australian Virtual Emergency Department, implementing the first phase of the SHOC, introducing new teams in hospitals to address discharge delays and reducing the number of long-stay patients awaiting aged care or NDIS support.
This plan aligns closely with solutions presented at the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Health and Hospitals Summit in November, which was attended by the Health Minister and senior Western Australian Health officials.
The virtual and community-based hospital services trial for residential aged care will be expanded to support stage one of the recently announced WA Virtual Emergency Department, with $3.4 million allocated to extend the Community Health in a Virtual Environment pilot and $3.9 million to expand Geriatric Residential Outreach and other older adult services.
There will also be an investment of $2.5 million in additional funding for the Residential Care Line and an $8.2 million investment in a smart referrals outpatient system. The first phase of the SHOC will be implemented with an initial $7 million commitment to deliver early measures such as improving inter-hospital patient transport.
Furthermore, $8.2 million over two years will support dedicated teams in hospitals to eliminate barriers to timely care and optimize the patient experience through locally developed, tested, refined, and scaled initiatives.
Western Australian hospitals will be asked to report on a range of additional targets, including admitting 80% of patients within six hours and discharging 80% of patients who do not need to be admitted within four hours, which will enhance the monitoring capabilities of emergency department performance.
These new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will complement existing targets such as the ambulance Extended Transfer of Care hours. A new public dashboard to report the targets is also being developed and will include ambulance ramping for added transparency.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said that these reforms will help improve access to emergency care and are part of the government’s efforts to look at the patient journey as a whole.
“We are investing in major changes to avoid an ‘all roads lead to ED’ system while at the same time expanding our hospital bed capacity.
“The four priority reforms in our ambulance ramping strategy will enable us to better deliver the right care, in the right place, and at the right time for each patient.
“The McGowan Government is investing in WA’s health system to expand hospital capacity, improve patient flow and address ambulance ramping, and the enhanced KPIs for hospitals will help to ensure our record investment is delivering for patients,” Sanderson said.