News, Updates and What's On
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.
Throughout the pandemic we have been hearing the concerns of consumers and health staff in rural and remote areas about how a COVID outbreak could affect their communities and families.
There are large sections of Queensland where they have been fortunate not to have a single case of COVID. But what does this mean when COVID comes to Queensland, and comes into areas that haven’t been exposed to it?
- What levels of community transmission are likely during outbreaks in rural and remote communities? What impact will lower vaccination rates have?
- What will healthcare look like in rural and remote areas during a COVID-19 surge?
- What will COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment mean if hospital is hours away?
- How are rural and remote communities, smaller health services, rural GPs, community controlled health organisations, retrieval services, local councils and local emergency services preparing to cope?
- How will people access food, medications and community services?
In our third webcast of the series, Melissa Fox hosts Statewide Rural and Remote Clinical Network co-chairs Dr Konrad Kangru and Dr Emily Moody to discuss COVID-19 preparation from a rural and remote perspective.
A holiday message to our wonderful health consumers, carers and health staff across Queensland
If we have learnt anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we don’t know exactly what the future may hold. Regardless of what unfolds, what we can and have been doing, is working to ensure the health system and consumers are prepared for any eventuality.
I would like to thank our incredible and diverse network of consumers for continuing to answer the call (sometimes at very short notice) to share your experiences and insights to improve health care for yourselves and your communities.
2021 has been a huge year. Read our final eNews of the year to see the incredible amount of engagement that our small but passionate team of staff have facilitated.
Challenges and Lessons of COVID from a Unique Perspective
Dr Krispin Hajkowicz understands COVID-19 as few Queenslanders can. As one of Australia’s leading infectious diseases doctors in Australia, in 2020 he found himself at the epicentre of Queensland’s coronavirus outbreak, overseeing care for COVID positive patients at one of Queensland’s biggest hospitals. The fear of inadvertently bringing COVID-19 home to his family was ever present. However, in August COVID-19 came into their home via a community outbreak, infecting two of their children.
This very special COVID readiness webcast was recorded at 10.30am on Monday 13 December when we welcomed Dr Hajkowicz and his 13-year-old son Tommy.
As Queenslanders, we know how to prepare for summer storms – clean the gutters, move projectiles from the garden, and have emergency numbers handy.
Current modelling shows that COVID-19 will spread from when the border opens next month and is predicted to peak in Queensland in March. Some communities will be hit harder than others.
- What does Qld have in place to cope with an outbreak?
- What should you be doing to prepare?
- How will you access healthcare and community services during an outbreak?
- Do you know what to expect if you contract COVID-19?
- What does Qld have in place to cope with an outbreak?
Watch this panel discussion between our CEO Melissa Fox and Dr Alex Markwell as they outline what we might expect from COVID in 2022 and what consumers and communities need to do now to prepare themselves for the Delta variant.
About Dr Alex Markwell
Dr Alex Markwell is a Senior Staff Specialist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Emergency and Trauma Centre and Senior Lecturer with the University of Queensland. She is the Chair of the Qld Clinical Senate and a past president of AMA Queensland.
Welcome to our latest eNews and a particularly warm welcome to everyone who has joined Health Consumers Queensland’s state-wide network since July.
In the midst of busy preparations for the border opening in December 2021, which will lead to community spread of the Delta variant in Queensland, this eNews offers us all a welcome pause. It’s a chance to reflect upon and acknowledge the continued commitment and impact of consumers, carers, health staff, NGOs and the HCQ team to ensure that the needs of health consumers remain at the centre of Queensland Health’s pandemic response whilst continuing to improve our regular public health services across the State.
It was great to be back at Clinical Excellence Showcase in October and meet up with consumers and health staff face-to-face and online to celebrate what has been achieved in health care during this time.
Clinical Excellence Showcase is described as a “one-stop shop for clinician improvements, shining a light on innovative models and projects that are being implemented across Queensland”, and this year’s program featured radical improvements and out-of-the-box innovations which were a true reflection of the lessons learnt during COVID in terms of doing things differently and collaborating online.
One of the highlights of the program was the Care through the eyes of consumers session which was hosted by our CEO, Melissa Fox.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 was passed on 16 September 2021 and allows for voluntary assisted dying to be available on 1 January 2023, providing dignity, choice and compassion for those at the end of their life.
HCQ made a number of submissions on the Bill and gave evidence at the public hearing in July following consultation with consumers and carers across the State to ensure a diverse range of views was captured and heard.
Our CEO, Melissa Fox has now been appointed to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Taskforce which will be supported by subcommittees responsible for the delivery of the extensive program of work to put in place the complex clinical and administrative arrangements. Melissa will lead the sub-committee focused on consumer/community engagement and continue to amplify the voices of consumers during the implementation phase. Two consumer and carer representatives are also being appointed to join each subcommittee.
Martin Chambers is a well-known member of HCQ’s network and currently sits on the Health Consumers Collaborative of Queensland. He has also been the Advancing Kidney Care 2026 (AKC2026) Collaborative’s consumer representative since its inception in late 2018.
In their September 2021 Communique, the AKC2026 Collaborative recognised and thanked him for his exceptional contribution to improving quality care for people with kidney disease. In their words, “For the past 15 years Martin has applied his many skills and lived experience to health advocacy, with a focus on patients with kidney disease, their carers’, and the building of strong and sustainable consumer partnerships with the public health system. Martin notes that ‘the best training you can get is when a loved one depends on you to keep them functional.’”
Within days of the lockdown in South East Queensland in July 2021 following the first outbreak of the Delta variant, Cairns and Yarrabah also went into lockdown. Having just hosted a Consumer Conversation to hear from consumers across the State during the lockdown in the south-eastern corner, HCQ reached out to consumers and carers from our network in the Far North to find out whether their particular concerns and experiences were reflected in the recommended list of actions in our situation report..
One carer representative from our network, Deb Robins, took the time to describe her experience of accompanying her husband to Brisbane for hospital treatment during this time. In particular, she highlighted the difficulties people are facing in getting reliable information on discharge when they need care far from home and the need for discharge staff to be fully informed so they can give the correct advice to patients and their families.
Read their story here:
My husband and I have been in North Brisbane for the past month and arrived home just as the lockdown in Cairns was lifted. I had escorted him to Brisbane with some trepidation, not being a medical escort, but he was discharged to travel independently and wanted my support. He was being monitored and assessed initially for heart valve surgery. The weeks in Brisbane were filled with innumerable daily tests – some quite invasive. He was also treated medically to improve his overall weak physical condition and boost his heart/lung function to a point where he could survive surgery – which he didn’t reach by the time he was discharged.
Therefore, I was locked down for a handful of days, twice, in my little motel room with kettle, toaster, microwave and walking distance from both his hospitals in Brisbane. I’m certain the Olympics and of course the variety of programs on the ABC and SBS channels helped, but I exercised 1-2 hours daily, read, crafted, but mostly networked for my health roles. In the private hospital there were many days when laundry drop off at the hospital entrance was the only visitation allowed. Of course we could message on the phone after a day of tests, so we understood the greater good of these restrictions. The surgeon assessing him very kindly arranged an exemption for me to attend his rooms which were within the hospital, to help my husband discuss his options and prognosis – that’s when we opted to be re-assessed for more options with the heart transplant team working out of the public system.
Queensland’s COVID-19 pandemic response has exposed the existing disparities in access to healthcare.
Just as the state’s vaccination response has needed to focus on our more vulnerable citizens, so too has our health system long needed a reset based on equity and value.
The safety and wellbeing of health consumers relies on a Queensland Health system that operates wholistically, collaborating to provide seamless, evidence-based care for the benefit of Queenslanders, no matter where they live or who they are.
The need during a pandemic surge to provide care closer to home, coordinated with primary care, is an opportunity to finally embed the reform consumers and many in the system have wanted for so long.