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Reflecting on 2017

As we countdown to the end of 2017, I would like to take a moment to reflect on our achievements this year.

This is not straight forward, as there so many facets to our organisation, and we are fortunate to be involved in a large and diverse range of projects, all of which have the ultimate goal of improving the health of our community. And so below are just some of the highlights for Wentworth Healthcare, as provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, this year. 

Drugs & Alcohol, and Mental Health  

  • We have undertaken a major review of our mental health services, in line with the national mental health reform initiative, and move into 2018 ready to start laying the necessary foundations for July 2018, when the reform change will commence.
  • We have introduced over a dozen new Mental Health, and Alcohol and Other Drug services to the region - including Aboriginal-specific services -investing greater resources in these much needed, high impage services.

Quality and Systems Improvement

  • We have launched a landmark website - HealthPathways - which has launched with nearly 50 pathways thanks to the input and efforts from over 35 GPs as well as specialists and other healthcare professionals. It is an ongoing commitment of collaboration between our organisation and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, with dozens of new pathways already in development to grow this online tool over time.
  • Our Health Care Homes trial is about to commence, and we have worked with general practices to support them in a myriad of ways - from accreditation support and data cleansing, to quality improvement initiatives, like the COPD collaborative and the Cancer Screening program.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Our community engagement has continued to play an active role in how we identify and commission new health services to cater to the needs of our region. 
  • We are also proud of the number of healthcare providers we regularly seek input from, including the 11% of GPs in the region who are formally engaged in an advisory or leadership role with our organisation.

My Health Record

  • 98% of our region's population now has a My Health Record, and we have seen a significant increase in the use of My Health Record by general practices and other healthcare providers, such as hospitals, as a result of the success of our My Health Record Opt-Out Trial in 2016. Furthermore, our PHN has been selected to play a pivotal role in supporting other NSW/ACT PHNs as part of the government's My Health Record national expansion program in 2018. 

Aboriginal Health

  • Progress has started on developing a Reconciliation Action Plan and we have coordinated cultural safety training for 70 practices that are registered with the Indigenous Practice Incentive Program. 
  • We have also farewelled friends and colleagues who were part of our Healthy for Life and Closing the Gap programs, which are now being coordinated through Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, and Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services (respectively).

Research and Promotion

  • We have coordinated a number of public health and education campaigns, to raise awareness amongst our community about issues including Cancer Screening, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), and the effects of overuse of antibiotics in society to name just a few. 
  • The End of Life Care project we coordinate has undertaken significant research, and run collaborative workshops with key stakeholders from general practice, nursing, RACFs and LHD, which is a pivotal starting point to redefining our approach and attitude to end of life care.
  • We have collaborated with Penrith City Council and LHD to develop a Penrith Health Action Plan, which will be a fulcrum for raising the profile of wellness and health-related initiatives in the Penrith LGA. 

Workforce and Practice Support

  • Our After Hours program has directly provided or commissioned more than 21,000 after hours GP consultations.
  • We continue to provide hands-on assistance to practices recruiting staff in the region, and our educational program evolves every year, once again receiving praise from local healthcare providers in 2017.

I encourage to read more detail about these and many other achievments in our 2017 Presentation from the Chair (pdf, 1.2mb), presented by Dr Andrew Knight at our Annual General Meeting in November. 

Already, 2018 is set to be another exciting year of progress and change, and I am eager to return after our Christmas break to get an early start on the plans ahead.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very joyous Christmas and a safe New Year, and I look forward to working with our many dedicated stakeholders - both within and beyond the health sector - next year. 

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Lizz Reay's avatar
Lizz Reay is the CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network. Previously Deputy CEO of Nepean Blue Mountains Medicare Local & Nepean Division of General Practice, she has an extensive background in public health.
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