The Royalties for Regions funded Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI) is transforming regional health and will continue to deliver benefits for many years to come, according to Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Dave Grills MLC.
Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman MLA and Minister for Health John Day MLA released the Southern Inland Health Initiative Program Evaluation – Initial Key Findings report this week, showing the impact the SIHI is having in regional areas.
“Health is one of the biggest issues in the regions and I am glad to say that significant improvements are being made in this area,” Mr Grills said.
“This report shows the investment made by Royalties for Regions is making a very real difference for many families and communities in regional WA.”
Key finding of the report include:
- More doctors available in regional WA: At October 2015, there were 133 GPs available through the SIHI catchment, 36 per cent more than when the program began.
- More doctors staying in regional WA: In 2008, 35 per cent of doctors were staying in regional towns for more than four years. In 2015, 67 per cent are staying long-term.
- Patients are embracing telehealth: The SIHI has helped to facilitate the rollout of the Emergency Telehealth Service, with 74 country hospitals, health centres and nursing posts now connected to telehealth. More than 1,400 patients are accessing telehealth every month.
- Less time in Emergency Departments: Better access to local GPs and after-hours GPs means the number of patients returning to EDs at SIHI hospitals had halved. People were also getting back on their feet quicker and being discharged from hospitals sooner due to better access to GPs and support services in the community.
Mr Grills said the findings were “remarkable.”
“SIHI has substantially improved emergency medical care, helped to attract and retain regional GPs in small country towns, and boosted access for regional people to specialist health via telehelath,” he said.
“When you consider the relatively short time-frame the SIHI has been in effect, these results are most impressive.
“Thanks to this Royalties for Regions investment, I believe we have turned a corner when it comes to health services in the Goldfields-Esperance region and elsewhere.”
Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman MLA said the SIHI was an important initiative for regional WA.
“The personal stories of patients speak volumes about the positive impact of SIHI and the difference it is making in regional WA,” Mr Redman said.
“This Royalties for Regions investment into SIHI is critical to support the development of sustainable regional communities in WA.”
Under the SIHI, communities in the southern inland catchment are benefiting from:
- $149 million to significantly improve medical resources and 24 hour emergency response across the districts
- $300 million plus capital program including new builds and upgrades to 37 health services across the Wheatbelt, Great Southern, South West and Midwest.
- $26 million to boost primary health care across the catchment
- $40 million to implement the Primary Health Care Demonstration Program
- $36 million investment in telehealth technology, including equipment upgrades
- $20 million towards residential aged care and dementia investment.
The SIHI catchment area stretches from Kalbarri and Meekatharra in the north, to Laverton in the east, down to Esperance in the south east, excluding regional centres.
To view the Southern Inland Health Initiative Program Evaluation – Initial Key Findings report visit www.health.wa.gov.au/southerninland