News, Updates and What's On
Key topics in this issue:
- System capacity is a concern for many consumers, with ramping, backlog of delayed treatments and screening, and underutilization of the surge workforce
- COVID Information is still challenging, although improved Consumer and clinicians are often not finding the information they need.
- Complacency: There is a perception that the public consider Omicron no more dangerous than a cold, and this is leading a relaxation of precautions.
What consumers told us during the week ending 25 February 2022.
This week, we were all reminded by a long-standing consumer, that we are lucky in Queensland. He asked us where else in the country are consumers at the table, asking questions, being heard, and getting the chance to help work with staff to improve our health system. So if we don’t say this often enough, here it is again, loud and clear. Health Consumers Queensland and our statewide network of consumers are grateful we are in Queensland and grateful to be working with people who understand the importance and value of consumer partnerships.
As always, there are things we can do together to make a great health system even better. So in this spirit, we offer this week’s Issues Paper – a 2 pager.
Queensland Health has released two new strategies to improve health outcomes and experiences for people living in rural and remote Queensland: the Rural and Remote Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2022-27 and the Digital Strategy for Rural and Remote Health.
The Rural and Remote Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2022-2027 was developed as a result of engagement and consultation with key stakeholders including health consumers, Hospital and Health Services, not-for-profit organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations, Queensland’s education sector and the primary health sector. Thank you to the consumers who were involved.
Key topics in this Issues Paper:
- People with disability and other ‘at risk’ people are feeling a sense of abandonment and disregard for their lives.
- Consumers are concerned about how backlogs and waiting lists are being managed
- Telehealth and virtual care have huge potential but is it always safe, consultative and high quality?
- Consumers have an expectation that the same mistakes are not repeated, so are keen for lessons to be learned for future COVID strains.
“Working together for the best care possible” – What health consumers and carers are saying on Friday 4 February 2022
During a conversation with Torres Strait Islander Elders this week, one of the Elders asked: “Are we doing the best we can?”
HCQ asks each of us to consider that question. Are we working together with the right people, inside and outside our organisations/networks, to do the best we can?
Key issues for health consumers and carers this week focus on what’s working well with communications about COVID-19: improvements to Queensland Health’s website are much appreciated; HealthDirect’s information is hitting the mark but needs better promotion and telehealth information and experience is a plus.
Consumers still need tailored advice from hotlines and now that schools are back to face-to-face lessons, consistent and accessible information would be valued.
As the first month of 2022 draws to a close, Health Consumers Queensland continues to listen to health consumer and carers across the state of their experience of accessing, getting and receiving healthcare and information.
This week the key themes that have emerged from health consumers include significant concerns for people’s safety and wellbeing in Residential Aged Care Facilities, those locking down for long periods of time, and people with disability.
A joint statement from consumers, community, clinician and unions was issued called for immediate action from both the Commonwealth and State governments to give priority access to key measures for people with disability. Read the joint statement here: Open Letter to Commonwealth and State governments calling for immediate actions – Queenslanders With Disability Network (qdn.org.au)
There is still widespread lack of access to RATs for those who need them most.
And getting the right, simple and easy to follow information on all things COVID when so much is changing so quickly.
- Significant concerns about safety and wellbeing for people with disability and aged care residents
- Communication gaps
- Lack of access to RATs
From a system that doesn’t support people with any vulnerabilities, including those with a disability, to a growing sense that we’ve run out of time, both consumers and health staff want a plan forward rather than crisis management.
The key themes you raised during HCQ’s Thursday evening online Coffee & Connect session and other online engagement included:
• Access to care and care for COVID patients
• On-going health concerns (not COVID-related)
• Long COVID
• Be open and transparent
Health consumers and carers identify key issues and give suggestions of key actions. Issues include:
- Consumers online today were very worried. They feel like there is no plan.
- They are very worried that people are going to die unnecessarily because there is no plan.
- Current consumer experiences shared today include being unable to get food or medications in rural and remote areas.
- Consumers want knowledge but underpinning this knowledge and information, they want reassurance that the government has got a plan particularly now so close to the peak.
Health Consumes Queensland wants to know how you are going living with COVID. If you have stories or information you wish to share, please use this form. We have created it so that you can share things with us at a time that is convenient for you.
Information you share with us will be gathered anonymously and shared with relevant Queensland Health leads and others in the health system to inform them of the barriers consumers face and the support they need.
Complete this online form and we will check it regularly.
Queensland’s border opening just prior to Christmas, coupled with the dramatic rise in cases from the highly infectious Omicron variant and recent adoption of national policy shifts has meant Queensland’s pandemic preparedness has been deeply tested.
An exhausted health workforce and Queenslanders have faced the challenges of the last three weeks with agility, resilience and commitment.
During this time Health Consumers Queensland, consumer and community organisations have been escalating issues, sharing resources, and supporting care providers and consumers.
This Hot Issues Brief paper is a summary of issues of importance to consumers in this response that need to be urgently resolved.
With our state border due to open on 17 December, Health Consumers Queensland hosted 3 webcasts. Our aim was to increase the COVID-readiness of Queensland health consumers and carers. We did this by providing a forum for information-sharing by clinical experts and leaders from Queensland Health. What we heard was that Queenslanders feel uncertainty and want to:
- Hear from their local health services
- Know what plans are in place
- Know how to escalate issues
- Know how to be prepared