President’s Blog: Out of our minds | AMA (WA)


Mental health governance

President’s Blog: Out of our minds

Friday November 4, 2022

Dr Mark Duncan-Smith, AMA (WA) President

Mental health is always on our minds at the AMA (WA). In May this year we made a submission to the Independent Governance Review of the Health Services Act 2016 (WA).

The objective of the AMA (WA) in this submission was, as we noted, “to assist in the development of a better corporate governance structure for WA Health. In doing so, we hope that the health system can achieve optimum transparency, accountability, efficiency, fiscal and clinical responsibility, safety, and quality.”

However, improvements to the structures affecting mental health service delivery were integral to our submission.

Specifically, it was noted that: “WA’s mental health system in its current form is not providing adequate, co-ordinated and timely mental health care delivery. Corporate and clinical governance models are haphazard, and funding throughout the patient journey comes from a number of disjointed sources. The current organisational structure is such that no single person or entity is responsible for the operational delivery of mental health in WA. This results in poor coordination, communication, collaboration, accountability and, most importantly, poor patient outcomes. The failure to address the corporate governance structure of the mental health system is the reason that the multitude of reviews, mainly pertaining to clinical governance, over the past 10 years have failed to make a difference. Many of these reviews have pointed to the lack of a clear and coherent system, resulting in fragmented care.”

The Independent review of WA health system governance was tabled in Parliament last week. I responded to key aspects of the review at a media conference on the day of the release.

I stated that: “We feel the move by the corporate governance review to consolidate mental health and have a single point of responsibility for the execution and operational delivery of mental health is a good and positive thing. The AMA (WA) does recognise the need to ensure that WA mental health money is preserved, and the Government is also aware of the importance of mental healthcare delivery in this State.

We feel that a new structure where there is better transparency, better responsibility, better coordination and better collaboration between all of the parties involved in mental healthcare delivery will result in better outcomes for the mental health of WA.”

Policy work is about getting ideas out of our minds and into a policy framework; advocating, influencing, impressing, and seeing a translation to concrete and meaningful action.

There are few more important areas for our consideration than mental health, so we hope these developments mean it is firmly at the front of mind for Government.

Members of the AMA (WA) provide their financial, moral and professional support to the Association in order to advocate for just such improvements to the health system and I thank you sincerely for your contributions.

The independent report can be found at

The AMA (WA) submission can be found at