To streamline care closer to home and ultimately improve patient access, the joint South and East Rheumatology Service will transition to independent services delivered by South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) at Fiona Stanley and Rockingham Hospitals and East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) at Royal Perth and Armadale Hospitals.
The existing suite of outpatient rheumatology services will be provided at both SMHS and EMHS except for the Giant Cell Arteritis Specialist Clinic which will continue to be provided at Royal Perth Hospital.
- For continuity of service, rheumatology patients who have already been seen at or have an appointment already booked at a hospital will continue to access care at that site. Over time, rheumatology patients who would prefer to move their care to a site which is closer to home will be given the option of transfer to the other site.
- Patients residing in a different catchment from the hospital which accepted the original rheumatology referral who have neither been seen nor allocated an appointment will be contacted to confirm they still need an appointment and that if so, informed their referral will be reallocated to a hospital closer to their home, and placed on the waiting list based on their original referral date.
- Patients will be asked to confirm they still require a rheumatology appointment and given the opportunity to raise any concerns to their referral transfer.
- Sites will consider retaining patients with extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis e.g. high volume of appointments for multiple specialties at a particular site.
- If there is no response to the letter within six weeks, the referral will be closed, and both the patient and their GP will be notified as per current WA Health procedure.
For patients whose rheumatology referral is allocated to a new site, the patient’s nominated GP will be notified. A phone number will be provided in letters for patients or GPs who have any concerns regarding these transitional arrangements to make contact. Going forward, rheumatology referrals sent to the Central Referral Service will be allocated to sites based on catchment and service capabilities.