Western Sydney Health Forum reflects on 2021 and looks to a promising future

Community members from across western Sydney have been given the opportunity to see what’s been achieved by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) in the past year and ask questions about challenges and the future of healthcare at the 2021 Western Sydney Health Forum.

Hosted by NewsLocal senior journalist Jake McCallum on Friday, 10 December, the hour-long live virtual panel featured WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy, emergency physician Dr Kavita Varshney, WSLHD executive director operations Alison Derrett and WSLHD COVID-19 vaccination lead Megan Byrne.

Graeme Loy opened the event with a recap of the various COVID-19 challenges faced by western Sydney and acknowledged all frontline workers for their “amazing and outstanding” work in keeping the community and each other safe.

“This year we delivered more than 600,000 vaccinations, called on over 130,000 interpreter services, worked with hotel quarantine, vaccination centres and the community, and treated more than 13,000 members of the community who were COVID-19 positive,” reflected Graeme.

“On our busiest peak day, we had 4,191 COVID-19 positive cases in our community and we had a really broad model of partnership across the state that stepped up together.

I was so impressed with the western Sydney community. It was an amazing response – we couldn’t have done it without you. There is no one who hasn’t impressed me.”

Graeme Loy, chief executive

The $300 million greenfield Rouse Hill Hospital project was the first topic of conversation for the panel with questions around plans, hospital services, and specialties.

“The community and clinicians want integrated care for a seamless experience,” said Graeme Loy.

“The challenge we have set ourselves is, what is it that we can give to Rouse Hill that no one else has got – what are the extra steps we can take to make it better than what the system currently offer?

“An emergency department is a no brainer but the challenge for us is looking at how can we make it work really well into the future.”

The District’s new Strategic Plan, Our Place, Our People was discussed – one of the three flagship pieces of work that will be done over the next 12 months – and how it focuses on improving patient and staff culture. 

Other topics included palliative care in western Sydney, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for 5 – 11-year-olds and western Sydney’s Aboriginal community, WSLHD Board appointments, future Town Hall forums for staff, the importance of sustainability and a focus on community connections throughout the next 10 years.

Graeme also reflected on how the District came in on budget, describing it as “nothing short of amazing” given the current climate and was an achievement that “takes everyone in the organisation to pull off”.

The Western Sydney Local Health District Year in Review 2020-21 was launched
at the event and can be read here.