Planning and evaluating palliative care services in NSW.

A new report by the NSW Auditor-General, Planning and evaluating palliative care services in NSW has found that NSW Health's approach to planning and evaluating palliative care is not effectively coordinated. There is no overall policy framework for palliative and end-of-life care, nor is there comprehensive monitoring and reporting on services and outcomes.

NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state, which reduces its ability to plan for future demand and the workforce needed to deliver it. At the district level, planning is sometimes ad hoc and accountability for performance is unclear.

The capacity of LHDs to use accurate and complete data to plan and deliver services is hindered by multiple disjointed information systems and manual data collections. Further, a data collection on patient outcomes, for benchmarking and quality improvement, is not used universally. This limits the ability of districts to plan, benchmark and improve services based on outcomes data.

NSW Health's engagement with stakeholders is not systematic. The lack of an overall stakeholder engagement strategy puts at risk the sustainability and value of stakeholder input in planning and limits transparency.

Over the last 2 years, NSW Health has taken steps to improve its planning and support for districts. The Agency for Clinical Innovation has produced an online resource which will assist LHDs in constructing their own, localised models of care. eHealth, which coordinates information communication technology for the state's healthcare, aims to invest in integrating and improving information systems. These initiatives should help to address many of the issues now inhibiting integrated service delivery, reporting on activity and outcomes, and planning for the future.

Full report

Western NSW Primary Health Network shows what works in delivering effective Aboriginal health services

The AHHA has released a Deeble Institute Evidence Brief on What works in partnering to deliver effective Aboriginal health services: the Western New South Wales Primary Health Network experience.

This Evidence Brief has been written because early evidence is suggesting that the partnership between the Western New South Wales (NSW) Primary Health Network (PHN) and Aboriginal primary healthcare services in the Western NSW PHN region is proving effective in terms of increased trust and supporting a stronger network of services for local Aboriginal communities. In particular, the structure and governance of services in this PHN region are unique in Australia, and could possibly provide lessons for other PHNs and Aboriginal health programs generally.

The brief outlines and discusses the Western NSW PHN arrangements and how they are supporting and building a stronger platform for the delivery of Aboriginal primary healthcare services in this region.'Western New South Wales Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) has had some exciting and inspiring success in delivering effective primary health services to Aboriginal people', says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

In particular, the number of Aboriginal people using integrated care services for chronic conditions more than doubled in the space of only 4 months.

The Evidence Brief is available at:

Lighthouse project aims to improve cardiac outcomes for Aboriginal people

18 hospitals from around Australia have signed up to the Lighthouse Hospital Project aimed at improving the hospital treatment of coronary heart disease among Indigenous Australians. Lighthouse is operated and managed by the Heart Foundation and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA). It is funded by the Australian Government.

The 18 hospitals cover almost one-half of all cardiac admissions in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Heart Foundation National CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly said closing the gap in cardiovascular disease between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was a key Heart Foundation priority, and it was highly appropriate that the announcement coincided with National Sorry Day.

'Cardiac care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is serious business. Australia's First Peoples are more likely to have heart attacks than non-Indigenous Australians, and more likely to have early heart disease onset coupled with other health problems, frequent hospital admissions and premature death. Deaths happen at almost twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians, yet Indigenous Australians appear to have fewer tests and treatments while in hospital, and discharge from hospital against medical advice is five times as high', Professor Kelly said

More at:

Anguish of families touched by suicide revealed in inquiry submissions

The anguish of two families touched by suicide has been laid bare in submissions to an inquiry into the management of health delivery in New South Wales.

The death of 18-year-old Ahlia Raftery in Newcastle's Mater Mental Health Unit in 2015 prompted scathing findings by deputy state coroner Derek Lee. He called for better nurse-to-patient ratios and wearable technology to prove that a patient is still alive.

Read more at:

Healing power of art therapy in the country

Moving to a new place is always difficult, especially if you're leaving something behind. But moving to a small regional town in the country, alone — with little support and with a disability is a particular challenge. Ten years ago when legally blind artist, art therapist and social activist Jamahl Pollard moved to Berri in South Australia's Riverland, he faced discrimination because he was different.

But Jamahl has channelled his feelings of marginalisation into teaching mentally ill patients at the local hospital, the healing power of art. See link at: and download audio for more info on this story.

GEN-Aged care data [AIHW Website]

A new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website, GEN, has been launched today by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP at Parliament House, Canberra.

GEN is a comprehensive "one-stop shop" for data and information about aged care services in Australia. It reports on capacity and activity in the aged care system focusing on the people, their care assessments and the services they use.

GEN is designed to cater for all levels of users, from students looking for information for assignments, right through to data modellers and actuaries.

Overview of GEN

Learn how to use the GEN website

Health care access, mental health, and preventative health: health priority survey findings for people in the bush (RFDS)

Health care access, mental health, and preventative health: health priority survey findings for people in the bush. This collaborative project with National Farmers' Federation and the Country Women's Association of Australia has been completed. A survey of over 450 country people drawn from every state and territory, saw one-third of responses (32.5%) name doctor and medical specialist access as their key priority.

7 million Australians live in remote and rural Australia. On average, these 7 million Australians have poorer health outcomes and live shorter lives than city residents. For example, the premature death rate is 1.6 times higher in remote Australia than in city areas. The percentage of people in remote areas with arthritis, asthma, deafness, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease is higher than in cities. The health behaviours of people in country areas are less conducive to good health than people in cities, with higher rates of smoking, obesity, and alcohol misuse in remote areas than in cities.

While there is ample evidence on the health access and outcome disparity between city and country Australia, there is little information about how country people themselves see these disparities. In response, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) joined with the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) to assess the health needs of remote and rural Australians and to give voice to country Australians.

The key issues identified by the survey respondents represent the areas in which government policy efforts should be directed. The five most important issues identified by respondents overall were access to medical services; mental health; drugs and alcohol; cancer; and cardiovascular health. The areas of health that respondents identified money should be spent on included: access to medical services; mental health; health promotion and prevention activities; cancer; aged care; and travel and accommodation support for people needing to access health care outside of their community. Many of these areas are already the focus of government policy, but their inclusion in the findings of the survey suggest more effort and resources are required to address them.

Health care access, mental health, and preventative health - survey report.

Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life

During its 2012-15 term, the NHMRC's former Prevention and Community Health Committee (PCHC) identified mental health as a key project area, with a particular focus on the effectiveness of parenting practices and their role in promoting social and emotional health and wellbeing in children and later on as adults. A new report has just been issued and includes a Plain Language Summary that summarises the findings of 51 systematic literature reviews and analyses the types of interventions aimed at promoting infants' and children's social and emotional wellbeing. The report is aimed at governments and other policy makers, researchers and service providers who work with parents of infants.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2017). NHMRC Report on the Evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life.