Damning report highlights Hames’ failure on child health checks

June 18th, 2014 by: Kwinana Electorale Office

Wednesday 18 Jun 2014

Fast Facts:

Auditor General report reveals more WA children are missing out on key health checks.
Only one in three 18-month-olds receive health checks.
13,391 newborn checks were conducted outside the target timeframe.

The Auditor General report into universal child health checks has found overall more WA children are missing out on key developmental health checks and the Barnett Government has failed to keep up with demand.

In 2010 an Auditor General report found the Department of Health was falling short of its targets. Four years on, nothing has changed.

The Barnett Government dropped its performance targets in 2012 – the newborn target for health checks was dropped from 65 per cent to 55 per cent and the timeframe to receive the checks expanded from 10 days to 40 days.

Even with the drop in targets the total number of checks for newborns has still fallen short.

Child health checks are critical in identifying developmental problems. Any delay to early detection and intervention can have a serious impact on a child’s development and school readiness.

The report also found that the percentage of newborns screened within the target period fell from 47 per cent to 43 per cent and that 13,391 newborn checks were conducted outside the target timeframe.

The report also found that the Health Department failed to spend the full $58.5million which was allocated to improve access to child health checks.  $26.7million was allocated to expand child health services in the metro area, but only $7.5million has been spent.

Since the Barnett Government announced they would employ an extra 100 Child Health Nurses in May 2012, they only have employed 53 Child Health Nurses.

Comments from Shadow Health Minister Roger Cook:

“This is the sixth report since 2009 that has found many WA children are missing out on key health checks, how many more reports are needed before Dr Hames wakes up.

“The shortage of child health nurses will only get worse with the population boom and put even more pressure on the State’s health services.

“The Barnett Government has made empty announcements about early childhood but in practice they have made no progress in this area.

“It is a disgrace that in a State like Western Australia, more and more children are being left behind, without crucial health checks.”

ROGER COOK – SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH 

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