Many consumers are living with chronic or multiple conditions which mean they are in category 1B, which is rolling out now. For this reason they experience a real sense of urgency for them to get the information they need about the vaccine: is it safe for them (and their specific circumstances), how and who can they have this safety conversation with, and when they will be vaccinated.
As the State faces an uncertain economic future with the pandemic draining the public purse, a looming recession and a significant burden of chronic disease and health inequity, key decisions about funding,
resourcing and service priorities are only going to get tougher. However, currently, consumers do not have a seat at the table to help shape these decisions even though their health care and health outcomes are directly affected by them.
Amidst intense media coverage and the release of limited information by the Commonwealth and State Governments, our first Consumer Conversation of 2021 focused on hearing what consumers are looking for from Queensland Health’s engagement and communications to underpin informed decision-making and instill public confidence in the plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination.
- Safety is at the very foundation of healthcare, but how often do we think about what safe care looks and feels like to us?
- How often do we consider what the healthcare system does to keep us safe?
- Have you ever felt uncomfortable or unsafe when receiving healthcare?
- Do you feel you can speak up if you do start to feel unsafe?
This was Health Consumers Queensland’s 21st conversation with consumers and carers since March 2020. It was clear from the conversation that although consumers assume they are getting care in a safe system and many of the safety nets are invisible to us, consumers can clearly identify and describe what unsafe care (and unsafe environment) fees like to them. All of the 28 people who attended brought their passion and their experience to this conversation, everyone had something to say. Safety is one of the tenets of the Australian Charter for Healthcare Rights.
We heard clearly how much safety matters to everyone who accesses health care. Yet what it looks, feels, sounds and tastes like for each of us is unique – and extends far beyond a single perspective of clinical safety. What feels safe for one person, may not feel safe another.
Health Consumers Queensland facilitated a conversation between culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and non-CALD consumers*, NGOs representing the interests of CALD consumers and staff from Queensland Health’s Disability and Multicultural Health Unit who have been leading engagement with CALD communities on the health response to the pandemic, the Social Policy Department, the Deputy Director-General of Corporate Services, the Statewide Lead for COVID-19 for Aged Care and Disability, and the Strategic Communications Branch. In all, more than 40 people were part of this on-line discussion about the issues culturally and linguistically diverse consumers faced in the health system during COVID.
Since April 2020, the Department and stakeholders representing CALD community groups in Queensland have been working together to develop policy and action plans for a COVID-19 response that meets the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse Queenslanders. Throughout this time, Health Consumers Queensland has also been listening to CALD consumers in our frequent Consumer Conversations sharing their experiences of accessing health care during the pandemic and expressing their concerns and views about what is still missing the mark.**
This conversation offered a rare moment for the Department, consumer organisations and every day CALD consumers to reflect upon the opportunities and improvements in access or delivery of health care which have been developed during COVID and collectively ask ourselves how we can keep doing this better.
Health Consumers Queensland is delighted to announce that, for the first time in our public health system’s history, consumers are sitting across almost all the key governance committees in the Department of Health (known as Tier 2 System Advisory Committees).
Eight out of the nine committees have representation from consumers, clinicians and First Nations people as well as an organisational representative from Health Consumers Queensland. The System Management Advisory Committee is the only exception, with a decision by the Chairs to have clinicians and First Nations people on the Tier 2 committee, and consumers on their Tier 3 sub-committees.
Recently the Chief Health Officer confirmed that Queenslanders should wear face masks when we can’t socially distance. However, wearing face masks continues to be a topic of discussion and confusion amongst consumers.
Eleven consumers from Health Consumers Queensland’s COVID-19 Community of Interest joined Jordan Medlock from the Strategic Communications Branch’s Project Team to explore the issues which are causing concern and identify additional information which would enable consumers to make confident and informed choices about mask wearing as part of their personal and collective COVID-19 protection strategy.
Do you remember back in April, when Annastacia Palaszczuk was telling Queenslanders that containing COVID-19 was going to be “a marathon, not a sprint”? Fast forward to the last few weeks in August, we are watching what is unfolding in Victoria and New South Wales, continuing to have concerning cases appear in Queensland and coming to accept that this is not all going to be ‘all over by Christmas’.
Indeed, one consumer remarked how people keep talking about ‘’post-COVID”, when really we all need to be focusing on how the health system and consumers can be supported to maintain and access regular health services and care, alongside sustaining a constant state of readiness for COVID-19 outbreaks, care and containment.