WA Government Boosts Health Care Support

WA Government Boosts Health Care Support

Western Australia Minister for Health Kim Hames

Waiting Times Cut For Child Development Services

Victor P Taffa

Waiting times for young West Australian children in need of developmental services have reduced by up to a third following an increase in staff numbers from a State budget funding boost of nearly $50 Million over four years.

Since the State Government commitment in May to recruit more than 45 child Health Specialists within a year, more than 44 staff have been appointed across WA in the key clinical disciplines of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology.

Health Minister Kim Hames said substantial changes were already being seen in child development services in the Perth Metropolitan Area just six months after making the commitment in this year’s budget.

 

 

“This is despite the fact there is almost 10 % more children in the Metropolitan Service than there were in January, so there is a big demand for these crucial services.” Dr. Hames said.

“This improvement in waiting times shows we have followed through on our promise to ensure young WA children have improved access to these services.  The Government is on track to meet our pledge to reduce waiting times for speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy by 50 % by mid-2011.”

To date, waiting times for a child to see a physiotherapist in the metropolitan area have decreased by almost a third.  The waiting time to see an occupational therapist has seen a reduction of more than 28 % and waiting times to see a speech pathologist have been cut by almost 18 %.

Other disciplines, including Clinical Psychology and Social Work, have also experienced a decline in waiting times.

“However, we still have some way to go in this area. It is unacceptable that some children are still waiting a year for support services, even if there has been a big drop in waiting times.” the Minister said.

The WA Country Health Service has employed four extra staff in Rural Regions, including a full-time speech pathologist in the Mid-West. A Specialist Child Development Team has also been established in the Wheatbelt.

Child development services provide a range of assessment, early intervention and therapy services to children with, or at risk of, developmental disorders and delay.

Services are delivered by a range of professionals including:

  • Speech Pathologists,
  • Physiotherapists,
  • Occupational Therapists,
  • Clinical Psychologists,
  • Social Workers,
  • Nurses,
  • Podiatrists,
  • Childcare Assistants,
  • Therapy Assistants,
  • Audiologists,
  • Paediatricians,
  • Medical Officers.

Dr. Hames said the investment was in line with recommendations made in the ‘Invest now or Pay Later: Securing the Future of Western Australia’s Children’ report which was tabled in State Parliament earlier this year.

Progress towards achievement of waiting time targets in the Perth Metropolitan Area:

Discipline

May 2010 average waiting time (Months)

Average waiting

time as at

October 2010

(Months)

Change in waiting times May-Oct 10

(Percentage)

Target waiting times

(Months)

Speech Pathology

18.8

15.5

-17.6

9.4

Occupational Therapy

15.0

10.7

-28.7

7.5

Physiotherapy

12.4

 8.4

-32.3

6.2

Clinical Psychology

10.3

 9.9

 -3.9

5.1

Social Work

 7.8

 7.7

 -1.3

3.9