A pandemic is an unprecedented event for our State. An enormous amount of work is currently being led by the Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young and undertaken by people across many organisations and areas of Government as the pattern and spread of COVID-19 changes daily.

It is undoubtedly a challenging time for all of us. It requires a coordinated cross-Government, industry and community response. We have been doing our bit to ensure consumers are being involved in key decisions and we have been listening to the voices of concerned consumers and carers.  

Getting Consumers Involved in Key Decision-making

Last week we invited representatives from the Department of Health to hear directly from twelve experienced and potentially vulnerable consumer partners from across the state representing Aboriginal, culturally and linguistically diverse, and rural and remote communities, people living with multiple chronic conditions or disabilities, parents of immuno-suppressed children and/or with chronic conditions and older people.  You can read a report based on these discussions and what matters most to them. This report has also been shared widely with key leaders in the Department of Health.

At a Queensland Health COVID-19 forum this week Health Consumers Queensland declared that consumers and carers must be at the planning and decision-making table on this issue. We emphasised the important role consumers can play in shaping communications so they are received and understood by our diverse communities. In response, the Director-General of Health, Dr John Wakefield, has shared his expectation to the Queensland Health system leadership that it is more vital than ever that the voice of consumers is heard and valued and that the partnership between consumers and the health system is strong in this time of crisis.

Additionally, the Health Consumers Collaborative of Collaborative meeting this week focused on a workshop with consumers and senior representatives of the health system about the priorities for ensuring a consumer engaged response to COVID-19.  This developed actions, principles of engagement, and networks that need to be engaged with.

We are currently planning and reviewing our work priorities for the year.  We will continue to share with you about outcomes and actions that arise from this and other activities that we are involved with.

Looking after ourselves and each other

Information about COVID-19 is changing almost daily. Please make sure you are reading the most up-to-date information – more advice on this is listed below. We know how important clear, fact-based information is to consumers and carers so you can make sure you are looking after your own health and being protective of those around you.

Flattening the Curve

We all have a role in doing what we can to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in the community. Actions such as hand washing and covering your cough may seem small, but are the actions that will protect ourselves and our community. Slowing the speed of the spread of COVID-19 is the key strategy to ensuring our health system can continue to support our community’s needs.
Graph of Flattening the Curve

Graphic by Toby Morris and Dr Siouxsie Wiles

A Focus on Powerful Partnerships During COVID-19

Health Consumers Queensland is now focusing its efforts on supporting powerful partnerships between consumers and staff in the health system. We hope to play a role in enabling the most effective strategic response to COVID-19 and the communication messages and mechanisms used during these times.

Consumers who are currently involved on a committee, we suggest you ask how and when you may be involved in the decisions being made about COVID-19 and provide feedback about what you are hearing/seeing among your network they may need to respond to.

Staff in the Department, HHS and the broad health sector, we suggest you keep your consumer representatives you have been working with, informed and updated about what’s going on by sharing key information we them. We also recommend you involve these consumers (and maybe more) to be at the decision-making table as you make collaborative decisions about your response to COVID-19.

We thank you for your understanding about our decision to postpone the Annual Forum. We also know that many of you will be at the heart of COVID-19 in Queensland, either as consumers and carers, loving family members, or as staff in the health system. Our thoughts are with you all and we hope that working together on this will help to ease the burden.

Yours in partnership,
Melissa Fox CEO, and Health Consumers Queensland Board