23 October 2015

Riley’s light shines brightest at WA Health Excellence Awards

A program to vaccinate pregnant women against pertussis has taken out the Director General’s award at this year’s WA Health Excellence Awards.

Health Director General Dr David Russell-Weisz said the pertussis VIP Project had been instrumental in lifting the profile of pertussis vaccinations.

“This project became well known across the State due to the plight of the Hughes family and the tragic loss of their one-month-old son Riley from pertussis in March 2015,” Dr Russell-Weisz said.

“While the project was in its initial concept stages at the time of Riley’s death, his tragic passing underscored the need to urgently progress the program.

“In just 10 days WA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Directorate had procured sufficient vaccine, developed guidance and consent materials, and established systems for recording vaccinations and monitoring safety.”

“Since the launch of the project in March more than 5,000 pregnant women have been immunised against pertussis, protecting more than 60 per cent of newborns in WA.”

Dr Russell-Weisz commended the project team for accelerating the program, resulting in it being launched three months ahead of schedule.

He also acknowledged the ongoing courage and strength of Greg and Catherine Hughes, who worked alongside WA Health to raise awareness of pertussis and ensure their plight was never experienced by another Western Australian family.

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 selected from the eight category winners, who Dr Russell-Weisz said should all be recognised for their extraordinary achievements.

Project category winners

Improving service delivery

Project: Enhance Project
Team: Royal Perth Hospital Mental Health Unit, South Metropolitan Health Service

Managing resources effectively and efficiently

Project: WA Health Strategic Procurement Program
Team: Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Health

Engaging with consumers, carers and the community

Project: pertussisVIP/Light for Riley
Team: Public Health (Communicable Disease Control), Department of Health; Greg and Catherine Hughes

Achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal people

Project: Nidjalla Waangan Mia
Team: Nidjalla Waangan Mia Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Centre Mandurah, South Metropolitan Health Service; GP Down South

Developing sustainable solutions for out-of-hospital healthcare

Project: Rehabilitation in the Home Program
Team: Rehabilitation in the Home Team, South Metropolitan Health Service

Overcoming inequities

Project: Multisystemic Therapy Program
Team: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Child and Adolescent Health Service

Innovative solutions for improving safety and quality

Project: Aggression Prevention and Intervention – Safewards Program
Team: Rockingham General Hospital and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health Service, South Metropolitan Health Service

Promoting healthy habits and preventing illness and injury

Project: Smarter than Smoking
Team: Population Health Unit, South Metropolitan Health Service; National Heart Foundation Australia, WA Division

Other individual awards

Peter Baldwin Memorial Award for Human Resource Management

Stephanie Myers, Education Consultant / Coordinator Workforce, North Metropolitan Health Service

Jill Porteous Memorial Award for Quality and Safety

Carol Saunders (retired), former Group General Manager for Safety, Quality and Risk, South Metropolitan Health Service

Also honoured this year was Professor Peter Thompson AM, Director Research Development at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Deputy Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. Professor Thompson won the Minister for Health’s Award for Outstanding Commitment to a Healthier Western Australia.

“I would like to congratulate all of these worthy winners and thank them for their contribution in providing healthier, longer and better quality lives for all Western Australians,” Dr Russell-Weisz said.

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

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