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Medical staff to get say in how hospitals are run

Tuesday, 2nd March, 2010

* Dr Flecknoe-Brown * Dr Flecknoe-Brown

The statewide introduction of Hospital Clinical Councils was a good move, according to the chairman of the Health Advisory Council, Dr Steve Flecknoe-Brown.

The NSW Government will mandate the councils, which already exist in some hospitals, the NSW Minister for Health Carmel Tebbutt announced yesterday. Ms Tebbutt said this would give clinicians a greater say in local decision-making and would formally recognise an expanded role for the councils.

"Our clinicians are the front line of the health system, providing services to patients and, as the Garling report found, increasing clinical involvement is vital to reforming the system," said Ms Tebbutt. "Hospital Clinical Councils will provide a consistent structure for improving clinical involvement with formal terms of reference and clear guidance on their goals and objectives."Clinical councils will include medical, nursing and allied health staff. They will be chaired by the Hospital General Manager and will be involved in the decision making process.

Dr Flecknoe-Brown said clinical councils had been run around the Greater Western Area Health Service, in places such as Bathurst and Orange, for some time. An informal group has been meeting in the city for the past nine months. That group, the Caring Together Action Group, seeks to ensure the recommendations of the Garling report are implemented.

Dr Flecknoe-Brown said they had been working well, and he was pleased to hear that it would be made official."This is consistent with the way we have been working. It's great to see we're on the same track as the Minister," he said. He said the groups brought all health professionals together in one room to discuss problems and issues that reached across levels. The new body will sit alongside the Broken Hill Health Council - aimed at giving everyday citizens a voice - and the Advisory Council, which includes a range of stakeholders and advises hospital administrators.

Dr Flecknoe-Brown said the call for greater communication had been going out since as far back was 1988, and that this development offered the "best chance so far" to open up the lines. Area Health Services will report back on a locally-agreed structure for their clinical councils by April 30 and the councils will be operational for the start of the new financial year on July 1.

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