Margaret Quirk

Margaret Quirk

Minister for Corrective Services; Small Business

    Telemedicine in prisons to improve safety and save taxpayer dollars

    20/05/2008 12:00 AM

    Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk has announced the introduction of a new telemedicine system in Western Australian prisons, which will improve community safety and save taxpayer dollars.


    Ms Quirk told an estimates committee hearing today that the new system would be rolled out State-wide by the end of the financial year.


    “The new telemedicine system reduces the need for prisoners to attend hospitals, lowers transport costs and improves access to health services,” she said.


    “It operates in a similar fashion to a video link and video conferencing. The offender goes to a room in the prison health centre and is ‘seen’ by a medical specialist from Royal Perth Hospital using interactive cameras and TV screens.


    “This will cut down on the number of prisoners who need to attend public health facilities physically, thus improving community safety, and will also play a particularly important role in rural and remote areas.


    “Offender patients in rural and remote areas will be able to be treated by a medical specialist in an appropriate clinical timeframe without having to travel to Perth.”


    The Minister said it was estimated that the new telemedicine system would perform up to 30 per cent of external medical appointments.


    “To put that in perspective; in 2007 there were 6,100 external medical appointments attended by prisoners,” she said.


    “A further 2,308 were booked but were unsuccessful because of factors such as prisoners refusing to attend, appointment cancellations and rescheduling and unavailability of transport.


    “In real figures, there were 8,408 requirements for external medical appointments for prisoners in 2007.


    “The Department of Corrective Services has estimated that if 30 per cent of these visits were dealt with via a telemedicine system, there could be annual savings of $630,000.”


    Minister's office - (08) 9213 7000