2019 Draft Norfolk Island Health Service Plan released for comment

The Australian Government remains committed to engaging with the Norfolk Island community on the delivery of health and aged care services and is preparing for consultations on the 2019 Draft Norfolk Island Health Service Plan (the 2019 Draft Plan).

Under the Australian Government’s multipurpose health facility framework, each multipurpose health facility is required to have a health service plan in place which is periodically reviewed and updated.

It was timely for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development (the Department) to review and update the outdated 2015 Norfolk Island Health Service Plan to examine health and aged care services that may be needed in the future for Norfolk Island.

Many of you shared your views and experiences during KPMG’s community consultation meetings in December 2018 and February 2019 regarding health services. The themes of these meetings are summarised in KPMG’s Consultation Report and reflected in the 2019 Draft Plan, which I am releasing today on the Department’s website.

Your feedback and views are now sought on the 2019 Draft Plan.

The 2019 Draft Plan provides practical ideas to feed more local data and knowledge into decision-making. Key findings and recommendations from the 2019 Draft Plan include:

  • Enhance the governance frameworks for the on-island health facility to ensure services and infrastructure are responsive to local health needs and changes in practice. The report identifies maternity services, surgery and aged care as key areas of community interest in this regard.
    • Establish a clinical advisory panel, including community representatives, to provide independent advice about the need, and evidence for, the provision of specific services on Norfolk Island.
  • The Terms of Reference for the panel would be developed in consultation with the community. They would focus on changes in demand for services (based on local data), and changes in accepted practices for service types that are commonly difficult to deliver in remote areas (such as birthing and surgery).
  • Maintain a ‘Level 1’ Maternity service to provide an emergency birthing capacity on Norfolk Island, and investigate the continuity of care before and after birth for women birthing on the mainland, and family support services leading up to the birth.
  • Provide a ‘Level 2’ General surgery service to facilitate the delivery of low-risk surgical procedures on Norfolk Island for an ageing population.

With respect to both maternity and surgery, a key challenge in all rural and remote communities is the ability to attract and retain a qualified workforce. This workforce is critical to ensure a safe and quality service. The report recognises that, while both of these services are of cultural and social importance to the community, there are a number of factors that impact the Island’s ability to establish a safe planned birthing service. This includes the volume of births each year and the time that would be needed to travel to a higher clinical capability in the event of a difficult birth (see page vii of the 2019 Draft Plan for more information).

The 2019 Draft Plan and Consultation Report can be found at: www.regional.gov.au/territories/norfolk_island/norfolk_island_health_services/norfolk_island_health_service_plan.aspx. Community submissions are welcome, with the consultation period concluding on 31 March 2020. Written comment can be provided to NIhealthserviceplan@infrastructure.gov.au.

KPMG will also be facilitating focus groups and community consultations on Norfolk Island from February 2020. Further details on how you can be involved in these sessions will be available shortly on the Health Services Plan webpage and through local media.

Anyone with questions or requiring any additional information can contact the Office of the Administrator on office.administrator@regional.gov.au or phone 22152 or send an email to the Department at: NIhealthserviceplan@infrastructure.gov.au.

Eric Hutchinson
Administrator of Norfolk Island

November 2019