Cook confirmed as new WA Health Minister

Roger Cook has been named as WA's Health Minister and deputy premier in Mark McGowan's newly elected Labor government and has had mental health added back to his portfolio responsibilities.

Mr Cook has acted in the role of shadow minister for health since his election to state parliament in 2008 and proved a dogged pursuer of former health minister Kim Hames over the Liberal government's perceived failings in health, particularly the commissioning and opening of Fiona Stanley Hospital and its IT woes.

Labor's election policies included an expansion of Joondalup Hospital and a minor upgrade to Geraldton Hospital, but also promised a series of telemedicine-enabled 'Medihotels' in metro Perth to cater for recuperating regional patients to free up hospital beds.

It also pledged $2 million towards a series of urgent care clinics located within major hospitals and at some general practices to take the pressure off emergency departments. An urgent care clinic and a Medihotel were promised for Royal Perth Hospital, with $45 million pledged over four years to improving its facilities but not a full redevelopment.

Mr Cook also promised to make the Patient Opinion website mandatory for all hospitals, requiring them to respond to comments and suggestions for improvements from patients.

“Patient Opinion is a cultural change, it’s a new way of doing health in Western Australia and we’ll be mandating this across hospitals in this state and demanding that our hospital boards not only consider the details of what's been input, but respond to those concerns,” he said last year.

“We’ll be demanding that hospital boards consider it as item one in every board meeting.”

Late last year, he wrote about his attendance at HISA's HITWA conference, where he heard about the frustrations clinicians and informaticians had in the slow uptake of new ideas and technology in the health system.

“There are clever folk out there making a big difference in some small and significant ways,” he wrote. “These developments are exciting. They are about “new health” taking healthcare into the future and, in the process, improve our own insights into our health and wellbeing that will reduce our need to go to the doctor in the first place.

“A leaner and more effective health system will be one that is quick to reap the benefits of innovation and change. Sometimes things won’t work but they must be given the opportunity to prove themselves.”

Posted in Movers and shakers

Tags: WA Health, Roger Cook

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