09 November 2018

Top honour for program reducing hepatitis C in prisons

A program that has reduced the rate of hepatitis C in prisons by five per cent in two years has taken the highest honour – the Director General’s Award – at the 2018 WA Health Excellence Awards.

WA Department of Health Director General Dr DJ Russell-Weisz said improving access to hepatitis C treatment in WA prisons exemplified what could be achieved by strong partnerships between government departments and professional disciplines.

“This partnership, which is led by the WA Department of Health and involves every relevant area health service, the Department of Justice and Hepatitis WA, has increased access to hepatitis C treatment for prisoners in WA,” Dr Russell-Weisz said.

“While curative treatment for hepatitis C have been available since March 2016, GP prescribing for prisoners was not allowed under Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – creating a significant barrier to treatment.

“The partners worked together to create a service design that would break-down these barriers and improve access to treatment for one of our most vulnerable populations.

“As a result, the prevalence of hepatitis C in prisons decreased from nearly 17 per cent in 2016 to 12 per cent in 2018.

“The availability of new treatments and improved access to them in custodial facilities has resulted in nearly 500 prisoners receiving treatment since 2016, compared to only an average of 50 a year previously.

“Some facilities, such as the West Kimberley Regional Prison, have become hepatitis C free.

“I congratulate the Department of Health and its partners for this valuable initiative.”

The WA Health Excellence Awards is an annual event that recognises innovation and excellence in service delivery in eight project categories. The recipient of the Director General’s Award was one of the eight category winners.

Project category winners

1. Managing resources effectively and efficiently

Project: Pathology test reduction in ICU

Team: Fiona Stanley Hospital ICU, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group – South Metropolitan Health Service

2. Engaging with consumers, carers and the community

Project: Supporting family/carers of older hospital patients experiencing delirium

Team: Ward C16 team, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, North Metropolitan Health Service – in partnership with Curtin University

3. Achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal people

Project: Kidney care – closer to home

Team: Renal Service, Goldfields, WA Country Health Service – in partnership with Fiona Stanley Hospital Nephrology Unit and Purple House Alice Springs NT

4. Developing sustainable solutions for out-of-hospital healthcare

Project: Assisted automated peritoneal dialysis program

Team: Renal Medicine, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital – North Metropolitan Health Service – in partnership with Fresenius Medical Centre Australia

5. Overcoming inequities

Project: Improving access to hepatitis C treatment in WA prisons

Team: Sexual Health and Bloodborne Virus Program, Department of Health – in partnership with Department of Justice, Hepatitis WA, SMHS, NMHS, EMHS and WACHS

6. Improving safety and quality

Project: Oral liquid opioids – from bottles to unit dose pods

Team: Fiona Stanley Hospital Pharmacy Department, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

7. Promotion of Preventative Health

Project: Alcohol screening and brief intervention project

Team: Clinical Service Planning and Population Health, South Metropolitan Health Service – in partnership with WA Primary Health Alliance, National Drug Research Institute

8. Excellence in Policy Development

Project: Guideline for the Health Management of Leprosy

Team: WA tuberculosis control program, Mental Health, Public Health and Dental Services, North Metropolitan Health Service

Other awards:

Minister for Health’s Award for Outstanding Commitment to a Healthier Western Australia

Former WA Chief Health Officer Professor Tarun Weeramanthri

Mental Health Commissioner’s Award

Mental Health Co-Response

Jill Porteous Memorial Award for Quality and Safety

Dr Nicholas Waldron, Consultant Geriatrician, Armadale Kalamunda Group

View more information about this year’s winners and categories of the WA Health Excellence Awards.

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