More children missing health checks
More children missing health checks

More WA children are missing out on universal health checks than four years ago despite the Government spending almost $60 million improving access to child health services amid warnings by the Auditor-General.

Despite the voluntary tests being free, only one in three children had their 18 month test in 2012-13.

Colin Murphy yesterday updated State Parliament on the Government's progress since his 2010 report, which shone a spotlight on the Health Department's failure to meet critical testing benchmarks.

The department runs a universal child health check program at seven intervals between birth and school entry to detect, prevent and intervene in health, social, emotional and family problems.

The Health Department has increased the overall number of child health checks 8 per cent since 2010-11, when 18,042 children were missing out.

But the increase has failed to keep pace with growth amid a 9.3 per cent increase in the birth rate since then, meaning 18,961 children missed out in 2012-13.

The department sets testing benchmarks that it believes are achievable given the program's voluntary nature and resources available during the year, but it failed to meet them by between 6 and 22 per cent in 2012-13.

"Health is also unlikely to meet its 2013-14 targets," Mr Murphy wrote.

The Government allocated $18 million in the 2012-13 Budget so the department could hire 28 child health nurses, while $40.5 million was to fund non-government organisations hiring a further 100.

Health Minister Kim Hames told Parliament "when we went to the private sector there was a lack of capacity to provide that service". He said the Government would instead directly employ all but 6.5 full-time equivalent child health nurses.

Shadow health minister Roger Cook said the Government's "privatisation" of the services had comprehensively failed.

The West Australian

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