Discussion paper

People power and politics in the WA health service

Health Public health Western Australia
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The key to the future of the Western Australian health service lies with - or ought to lie with - the people of WA. It is our health that is involved; and it ought to be seen as our health service. Currently the WA health service is provider driven; it is largely the values of clinicians that determine how resources are spent. It is with the clinicians that the power over resource allocation and deployment currently lies.

This paper’s starting point is to argue that there needs to be a shift in power in WA health, in essence to allow the citizens of WA to have more say in setting the values or principles on which the service is to be based. Informed WA citizens have shown that they acknowledge and accept that resources for health care are limited. They then are prepared to debate what they want and what their priorities are within resource limitations. Primarily they want greater equity with special emphasis on meeting the needs of Aboriginal people but also higher priority for prevention and public health.

They also want more say in how the health service uses its resources and sets its priorities. The paper then goes on to suggest what changes are needed to meet the (resource constrained) wants of the people.

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