Delivering a Healthy WA
Health Networks - Collaborative health care planning for the whole community

Change is afoot for Health Networks

In 2015 Health Networks released their Strategic Direction 2015–2020. It proposed a shift in focus for Health Networks to activities in four key areas: engagement, pathways, planning and leadership.

To achieve this Strategic Direction, the Health Networks Directorate has been reviewing its structure and current priorities to ensure it can deliver on key action areas.

The Health Networks Directorate supports Networks across 13 clinical areas and is committed to continuing to connect internal and external partners in the health system to share their collective clinical and health system knowledge and experience to advise and inform improvements across WA’s health system.

Acting Director Megan Burley is enthusiastic about the changing structure.

“Having a team dedicated to engagement and networking will allow us to strengthen our reach and depth of stakeholders across the system and get a better understanding of who we need to talk to and where our priorities should be,” she says.

Health Networks have been in Western Australia for more than 10 years. We are well known for our work in policy development, such as our Models of Care and Frameworks. We are dedicated to engaging effectively with a diverse range of people from across the health sector, including primary care, non-government organisations, private health services, and consumers and their families. This ensures health policies reflect the needs of the community and deliver responsible, coordinated and sustainable health care that is informed by evidence of best practice.

The Department of Health’s new system manager role makes it even more important that Health Networks provide the right feedback from the front line and consumers up to the System Manager. This will ensure that our policies and processes deliver the best possible health system for Western Australia.

The changing role of the Department of Health

A key driver to the changes within Health Networks is the changes planned for the Department of Health. The Health Services Act 2016 marks a major change to the way public health services operate in Western Australia. The Department of Health will be established as the System Manager and will be responsible for the overall management, performance and strategic direction of WA Health. It will ensure that health services are of high quality and delivered in a safe and timely manner.

The Act will also see a significant change to the governance and structure of health services. Each health service (North Metropolitan, South Metropolitan, East Metropolitan, Country Health and Child and Adolescent) will become a separate board-governed statutory authority. They will be legally responsible and accountable for the delivery of health services for their local areas and communities.

Why has WA Health changed? The current health system is too large and complex to operate as it has been, with all decision-making and accountability resting on one person, the Director-General of Health.

How we will be different?

In some ways, Networks won’t look so different. We will still be reliant on our large membership base to inform us, and the System Manager, on priority areas for action. We will continue to have a strong focus on policy development and service improvement. We will, however, be focussing more on projects that encompass more than one clinical area, that can have a wider impact across the State.

Our new engagement and networking team will be working hard to ensure that we continue to be the voice of the many people across the health system, including staff, consumers, carers, and families, to ensure they are heard. We will focus on how we can Support the System Manager transform our health system into one that is more responsive, sustainable and – most importantly – more connected.