Implementing a strategic plan for child health: A Sydney case study
Aim: The aim of this paper is to describe the implementation of a strategic plan, Health Gain for Children and Youth of Central Sydney, over a 10-year period to December 2005.
Methods: Descriptive information was obtained from the records and minutes of all relevant committees, interviews with key workers who were involved with the committees, managers and senior health professionals, and from the involvement of the authors throughout the process of the implementation.
Results: An implementation steering committee was established to oversee the implementation of the plan. Rather than adopting a uniform approach to assigning responsibility for the implementation of each strategy in the plan or developing specific costs and time frames for each strategy, a more pragmatic, flexible and opportunistic approach was taken. Most of the plan's strategies were implemented over a 7-year time frame using a combination of service reorientation and implementation of new programmes, some of which were funded from sources not anticipated during the development of the plan. Implementation required a dedicated driver, commitment at senior level and participation by many staff at many levels. Outcomes, monitored through data collected at 5-year intervals, revealed positive trends in a number of child and youth health indicators.
Conclusions: The successful implementation of the strategic plan required pragmatism, flexibility, opportunism and the commitment and involvement of staff at all organisational levels. It is envisaged that this approach provides a firm base for future evidence-based developments to benefit the health and well-being of children, youth and their families and reduce health inequities.