Looking Back: How effective has the Queensland COVID-19 response been?

We asked consumers for their reaction to the COVID-19 response from Queensland Health, and from us, Health Consumers Queensland. We were very pleased to hear that consumers were impressed with Queensland Health’s response. Particularly compared to other states, consumers felt that Queensland Health has done very well to involve consumers to such a high degree, to listen and act on their views and concerns. Suggestions for improvement included greater attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, great reach into the regions, and better communication.

Consumers were overwhelmingly positive about the COVID-19 response from Health Consumers Queensland, with many feeling that the COVID-19 Community of Interest gave consumers the opportunity to have their voices heard, and gave them the information they needed to support themselves, their families and their communities. More importantly, consumers saw the influence they had on Queensland Health and were mindful of how unique that is in Australia.

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A mental health system for everyone: Integrated, strong and tailored to our individual needs and circumstances

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on mental health service provision in Queensland like never before, as people grapple with prolonged social isolation, fear and uncertainty, unemployment, restricted access to health care, home-schooling, withdrawal of support and services, with many reporting feeling forgotten by the government and its pandemic responses.

Currently Queensland Health provides mostly acute mental health care services but some consumers consider the scale of the mental health crisis facing the public health system is “another pandemic in itself”.

Consumers told us that a prescriptive, inflexible and reactive approach to mental health care is not working – or helping. They want tailored, individualised care and communication and a system which prioritises and values preventative mental health care measures.

Ultimately, their vision is for a strong, integrated mental health system for everyone which is well-funded, resourced and staffed by skilled and well-trained professionals.

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COVID-19 Testing: Straightforward, or difficult to access?

The message from Queensland Health is that we need more people tested for COVID-19, but consumer continue to be unclear about eligibility for testing, what testing entails, and what measures need to be taken either side of having a test. Many are reluctant to seek out testing if they are only showing mild symptoms, with the thought of isolation another disincentive.

While the Queensland Health COVID-19 site was given the thumbs-up by many as a good source of fact, inconsistencies between local and state information is compounding uncertainty on what to do. Most agreed that we should look to the tried and true strategies used during natural disasters, with regular centralized government messaging and local radio and news broadcasts nominated as the key vehicles for getting information out to the public.

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Harnessing the benefits of telehealth and virtual care

5 June 2020

Rapid expansion of telehealth and virtual care has emerged as one of the positive outcomes from COVID-19. Consumers shared key insights including:

  • Everybody is doing it differently. Let’s make it simpler, easier and less complicated for all consumers and health care providers to use telehealth.
  • Let’s ensure there is public awareness and system-wide acknowledgment of when and where telehealth is inappropriate.
  • Ensure consumers have choice in the way their healthcare is delivered e.g. face-to-face or by telehealth.
  • Virtual care should be based on clear criteria, consumer choice and be clinically appropriate.
  • Now is clearly the time to harness the potential of telehealth and address the gaps and inequities of this model of health service delivery

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Qld Health funding priorities 2020/2021

While talking about funding priorities for the next financial year, it was clear that health consumers have an appetite for major changes in health.  Consumers have suggested major reforms to long-held ways of providing health care.  Identified reforms are:

  • to the way patients are categorized for care
  • re-imagining HHS borders
  • funding healthcare
  • collaborating with consumers to design new models of care, service improvements and
  • funding models to actively address the social and cultural determinants of health and the systems barriers that keep some people in a cycle of poverty and ill-health.


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Priority Queensland populations – consumers and carers at risk of being left behind

19 May

Consumers identified health consumers and carers at risk of being left behind during COVID-19. This helped form their views on who should be included in priority Queensland populations and what healthcare should look like for them. Consumers also saw the value of focusing on the commonalities between these groups as their challenges may be similar e.g. accessing healthcare, navigating between health care services and health literacy.

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Being safe and feeling safe when receiving healthcare

From what consumers shared, a picture emerged of mixed messaging, inconsistent application of protective and safety measures, and varying levels of confidence in the health system’s ability to keep patients safe from potential infection. Some people feel frightened, vulnerable and forgotten.

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Positives and innovations consumers want to keep after COVID-19

Consumers outlined the positives and innovations they would like maintained during COVID-19 and beyond including improved consumer engagement, the collaborative, timely and effective decision-making at both the system level and at point-of-care, telehealth and virtual care, and that mental health is given equal weight alongside physical health.

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