Auditor General delivers another damning report in health system

The Auditor General’s report into the management of long stay patients in the health system has again highlighted how the McGowan Government has failed to make health a priority.

According to the Auditor General; “The Department of Health as system manager, does not know in real time how many patients across WA health remain in hospital when they are medically fit for discharge… and therefore has limited understanding of the cost and impact on hospital bed capacity and patient flow.”

“It’s astounding that the government has failed to properly address this issue that has a huge impact on the record levels of ambulance ramping and bed block we have seen across the hospital system,” Shadow for Health Libby Mettam said.

“Given the negative impact long hospital stays have on the outcomes for patients and the efficiency of the health system, it is essential that WA Health better understands this issue, yet clearly it doesn’t.”

The report also highlighted the sporadic action in the past and questioned the value of current initiatives if there weren’t any measurable outcomes.

“While the McGowan Government has invested $74.1mill on long stay patients (largely on extending existing initiatives) the report highlights this is hampered by an absence of a strategic plan and measures to coordinate and track initiatives to reduce the number of long stay patients.

“It’s extraordinary the Government is seemingly trying to throw money at a problem without knowing the extent of it or how it will actually achieve reductions.”

Ms Mettam said given WA Health estimate that the average cost of a hospital bed is $2,370 per day this is clearly also an efficiency issue as well.

The Auditor General also pointed to a recent survey by the Mental Health Commission which indicated that 25% of mental health beds occupied by inpatients were medically ready for discharge.

“Given this has had such widespread consequences across the whole of the health system it is extraordinary that the Government has so little visibility of this issue.

“This highlights a lack of collaboration with other key agencies as well as a failure to see what has been described as a “determined focus on continuous improvement.”

Reference: Auditor General Management of Long Stay Patients in Public Hospitals;
Management of Long Stay Patients in Public Hospitals – Office of the Auditor General