Over 80 consumers partner with clinicians and other stakeholders to develop a Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

In March this year with the onset of COVID-19, the Queensland Clinical Senate and Queensland Clinical Networks, along with ethicists and other health professionals, began work on developing a framework that would advise care decisions if we were in pandemic and hospital resources and intensive care beds were impacted.

In the early stages of the work, Health Consumers Queensland was approached to support the development of the framework.  From that point on consumers were involved and consulted at every stage.  Engagement Advisor, Leonie Sanderson also consulted with current and past members of the Queensland Health Consumers Collaborative and HCQ Consumer Advisory Group on the framework values and principles whilst  Anne Curtis, Engagement Consultant, Special Projects, undertook rapid consultation with the broader community to hear what was important to them if we were in a pandemic situation. In all, more than 80 consumers and community members informed the framework.

The Queensland Ethical Decision-Making Framework is the result of a partnership between clinicians, consumers and other stakeholders, and was the first framework in Australia to be developed with consumers.  The framework and the supporting consumer resources are located on the Queensland Health website: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/novel-coronavirus-qld-clinicians/resources-for-clinicians

The three documents can be found under the section heading:

Statements, guidelines and directions from professional groups
Queensland ethical framework to guide clinical decision making in the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF 1269 kB)
Queensland ethical decision-making framework – Frequently asked questions (PDF 309 kB)
Shared decision making in Hospital Intensive Care Units during COVID-19 (PDF 2160 kB)

Six of the participating consumers have also worked on the development of consumer resources to ensure consumers and the community understand the purpose of the framework if it is required to be actioned. A shared decision-making infographic and Frequently Asked Questions now sit under the Framework on the Queensland Health website. 

We would like to acknowledge Lis Miller, Keren Pointon, Hamza Vayani, Sharon Boyce, Satrio Nindyo Istiko and Tanya Kretschmann, Helen Mees, Phil Carswell, Martin Chambers, Adele Witte, Lila Pratap, Jim Madden and Delphine Geia for their involvement with the development of the framework and the supporting consumer and clinician resources. 

Consumer themes through COVID-19

Health Consumers Queensland has been facilitating Consumer Conversations since 25 March to hear directly from consumers during COVID-19. Since then we have held 26 sessions with more than 500 consumers. The early conversations were during a lot of uncertainty as public health restrictions were being imposed and we simply asked “what is working, what isn’t and what are you concerned about?” As the curve began to flatten, we refined the conversations to focus on specific topics, based on what we were hearing from consumers. Consumers routinely identified early key issues for the community, which we were able to feed through to the health system. This enabled the system to respond in the knowledge of consumer insights and expectations.

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What does the easing of restrictions around elective surgery now mean for consumers?​

This week we asked members of our COVID-19 Community of Interest: What matters to you when balancing the fear of being infected with the benefits of receiving ongoing care for your health condition? What barriers do we need to overcome in order to confidently shift our approach to utilize this capacity in the health system and feel reassured about the safety of patients and staff?  How do we best use the private hospital capacity which is now available?

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