Annual Report 2020-21 Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network


Hon Stephen Wade>MLC
Minister for Health and Wellbeing
Health, Ageing, Mental Health and Substance Abuse

This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of Health Care Act 2008, Health Care (Governance) Amendment Act 2021 and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.

This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.

Submitted on behalf of the Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network by:

Craig Packard
Chief Executive Officer
Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network

Date: 24 September 2021

Mark Whitfield
Chair Governing Board
Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network

Date: 24 September 2021

From the Chief Executive

It is with great pleasure I present the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network (FUNLHN). The year has been enormously challenging but extremely rewarding in many ways. Not only rewarding to meet the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but particularly that we have achieved this while also continuing to develop our local health network capacity. Whilst we are only in our second year as an independent health entity, our dedicated staff have worked tirelessly to build a health service that provides the best possible care for our consumers.

This year we have focused on reviewing, developing and planning the services, structures and staffing we need to ensure the best possible services to our communities. One of the highlights was to establish a preferred model for our Emergency Departments and Inpatient (ED/IP) medical services and have this supported by the FUNLHN Board to progress. This is a significant achievement to have a commitment to implement a new salaried rural generalist medical workforce, and progress from the current predominately locum doctor model, which is often unstable, particularly over the last 12 months with interstate and international travel restrictions making it difficult to engage locums. We now move to the recruitment phase of securing the Medical Heads of Units and the new ED/IP Medical Consultants.

We are also excited that this year we have explored innovative ways to develop new services into the region. This includes the introduction of a Midwifery Group Practice service at Whyalla, Nurse Practitioners in the Whyalla and Port Augusta Emergency Departments (ED), dedicated Mental Health Nurses in the Whyalla and Port Augusta ED, plus a number of new corporate positions that strengthens our LHN’s self-sufficiency.

The introduction of on-site security services at Whyalla and Port Augusta Hospitals has also been a considerable achievement for the LHN and I personally thank the Governing Board for their commitment to ensure the safety of our staff and consumers in our services. The implementation of these 24 hour, seven day security officers is a unique commitment in regional hospitals.

This year we conducted two major accreditation surveys, of which I am very proud of our results. The first was to meet the accreditation requirements of the National Safety Quality Health Service Standards. This was a tremendous result with nil not-met’s against all the quality standards. The second was the accreditation survey against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Standards. I am also proud to acknowledge that we met all the required quality standards of the NDIS. Our staff across all our sites and services have done an amazing job to ensure the ongoing high quality of our services to all consumers.

The requirement and commitment to the safety of our communities against the COVID-19 pandemic has again be a large focus for our service. This has included the continued screening and testing requirements and in addition, the need to deliver the vaccination program across the LHN. These additional services have placed pressure on our staffing resources and the ability to recruit staff has been very difficult, given the current level of health staffing needs across the nation. However, we have been able to manage these new requirements and deliver the vaccinations to the eligible cohorts across our wider LHN.

We were very pleased to have the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Honourable Stephen Wade MLC, formally release the Rural Allied Health and Scientific Health Workforce Plan at Whyalla this year. The plan recognises the importance of the regional allied and scientific health workforce to regional and rural communities and acknowledges the complexity and diversity of the allied and scientific health workforce and the settings in which they work.

This year we have been planning with the state government the future of the Leigh Creek Township and transition from a mining town to an open township. The township transition will include the building of a new purpose built Health Clinic at Leigh Creek, which we anticipate will be constructed by early 2023.

Aged Care services, both our residential services at Quorn and Hawker and our community home based services delivered through Country Health Connect, have been a growing and important part of our service planning over the last 12 months, but will also increase into the coming year. This includes meeting the requirements of the released report from the Aged Care Royal Commission and to meet the growing needs of an ageing community. FUNLHN has been participating at a state-wide level in developing a SA Health Aged Care Strategy however, the coming year will require us to define this planning and business case in our own LHN.

The increasing requirements to meet the aged care service needs will be a challenge for us over the coming years, given the staffing difficulties already being experienced across the nursing, medical and aged care sector. I am excited that this provides new opportunities to further explore innovation and use of technology in the delivery of health services in regional and remote areas.

We were extremely pleased this year to develop and release our FUNLHN branding which will allow us to identify our services to the community. I am excited with the final design and the promotional tools associated with our new branding and thank everyone involved with the consultation and development of the FUNLHN branding, which I feel depicts our region beautifully.

Thank you to the FUNLHN Governing Board for their support and commitment to myself and our Leadership Team in the operational management of health service. We have an extremely dedicated leadership team and staff across all our services. Once again, the coming year will bring challenges, but I have full confidence in our ability to meet these challenges. Lastly, I thank Bevan Francis who has been the inaugural FUNLHN Board Chair, for his support and  commitment to the establishment of the FUNLHN. I wish Bevan all the best for the future. His support to me has been much appreciated. I look forward to working with the Board and new Board Chair, Mark Whitfield, into the future.

Craig Packard
Chief Executive Officer
Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network

From the Governing Board Chair

I start this foreword with a disclosure – I have not been the Chair for the whole year and will acknowledge the outstanding leadership of the former, now retired, Chair – Bevan Francis. As the inaugural Chair of the FUNLHN Governing Board, Bevan had the task of bringing together a diverse group of individuals and moulding into a cohesive team – a task that he completed with great aplomb, especially with some of us coming from outside of the health system. His lasting legacy is a cohesive and focussed Board.

During the past year we have achieved some significant milestones including the development of:

  • The Consumer and Community Engagement Strategic Framework
  • The Strategic Plan 2021 – 2026
  • The Clinical Engagement Strategy
  • Appointment of the Senior Leadership Team
  • Achievement of NDIS and ACHS accreditation
  • Strong financial performance

All achieved in a COVID-19 restricted context.

I acknowledge the tireless work of our staff, who established processes to reduce COVID-19 risk in our health settings, and rapid response protocols in the event that we needed to respond to local outbreaks. More recently staff have also been working in vaccination and testing clinics. The Board are blessed to have such good people working with us and we extend our sincere thanks to them all.

Through the past year, the Board have needed to adapt to the many challenges that COVID-19 put before us and I am pleased to be able to say that we managed to rise to each of them. This foreword is the most appropriate place to acknowledge the skills and commitment of Board Members.

John Lynch, Geri Malone, Karyn Reid, Suzy Graham and Garnett Brady have worked tirelessly, attending meetings across the FUNLHN footprint as well as virtually. I acknowledge their great work and value their focus, commitment and skills.

The future still holds some significant challenges for us including recruitment of a skilled workforce – especially clinical, responding to aging infrastructure and equipment, overcoming the tyranny of distance in delivering services, responding to the outcome of the Aged Care Royal Commission and continuing to advocate for increase and improved access to services in the regions

This Annual Report chronicles, in detail, significant achievements during the past year. I thank everyone involved in our success and commend this Annual Report to you.

Mark Whitfield
Governing Board Chair
Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network