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Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Autumn 2020 eNews

In this issue

Thank you to Australia's healthcare heroes

The current COVID-19 pandemic is delivering the challenge of a lifetime to individuals, communities and our health system. It has put unprecedented demand on health services and healthcare workers, and has affected the lives of all Australians. We are grateful to the incredible healthcare professionals across the country who have stepped up to help us navigate through this immense challenge – thank you for your dedication, professionalism and care.

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Patient and clinician safety is paramount during pandemic

Thousands of doctors, nurses, allied health workers and support healthcare workers are working under immense pressure around the clock to treat patients infected with Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Commission is providing information, resources and the latest advice on infection prevention and control, particularly hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to support these efforts.

The overall aim of infection control measures is to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for patients and healthcare workers by reducing the transmission of the virus.

For quick access to important information about COVID19 and official guidance on infection control, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) page on our website. This includes:

  • Guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) – including sequences for putting on and removing PPE and signage
  • Guidance on infection prevention and control – including the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (AICGs)
  • Hand hygiene advice to prevent infection – including advice on how to wash your hands well, and use alcohol-based hand-rub.

This information was distributed to public and private hospitals across Australia last week.

Education on infection prevention and control
The Commission hosts a number of online learning modules on infection prevention and control and hand hygiene, available to all healthcare professionals.

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HSOs to retain accreditation during COVID-19 pandemic

Information for Health Service Organisations

To support health service organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with social distancing measures, the Commission is maintaining the accreditation status of health service organisations to the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards, effective immediately. Changes are being enacted as part of the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) Scheme.

A full list of changes is available on the Commission's websiteThese measures aim to maximise the capacity of the health system to deliver care during this period of unprecedented demand. Health service organisations are not required to take any further action at this time. Enquiries can be emailed to accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au.  

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General practice accreditation to remain until recovery

Information for General Practice

Extraordinary circumstances call for special measures. The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency and the Commission has responded by maintaining requirements for accreditation to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices. These changes are being enacted as part of the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme.

Arrangements will be monitored, with changes to come in the recovery phase of the pandemic. Until then, general practices that have completed an onsite assessment and are in the remediation phase of their assessment cycle and require an onsite assessment to complete the final assessment will not be assessed. 

Reintroduction of onsite assessments will take into consideration the lead-time for planning and preparation of assessments. These measures aim to maximise the capacity of the health system to deliver care during a period of unprecedented demand. General practices are not required to take any action at this time. For more information, visit the Commission's website. Email your queries to accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au.

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New user guide on care for migrant and refugee patients

Australia is a highly diverse, multicultural nation and it is essential that health service organisations deliver safe and high-quality care to everyone in the Australian community. 

In striving to improve the health and wellbeing of migrant and refugee communities, the Commission collaborated with the Migrant and Refugee Health Partnership to develop the NSQHS Standards User Guide for Health Service Organisations Providing Care for Patients from Migrant and Refugee Backgrounds (the user guide).

Consultation is underway for input on the draft user guide from across our diverse communities. The user guide provides recommended approaches, practical strategies and examples to help deliver culturally-responsive care that is safe and high-quality for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

View the draft user guide and have your say by 30 June 2020 by responding to our survey. If you have any queries, please email NSQHSStandards@safetyandquality.gov.au.

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Quick Bites - Digital mental health, end-of-life care & more

Consultation continues for digital mental health standards

Online consultations are continuing on the draft National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards. With unprecedented demand on health services and healthcare workers, we appreciate any support you can provide. Register to join one of our online forums or webinars led by the Commission's Clinical Director Dr Peggy Brown AOor provide feedback via our online survey. Download the draft NSQDMH Standards and find out dates at safetyandquality.gov.au/dmhsContact our project team at DMHS@safetyandquality.gov.au.

Healthcare workforce survey closing soon

End-of-life care is the responsibility of all healthcare workers. Recognising the need for end-of-life care early can optimise a person’s quality of life and allow them to access adequate, appropriate and considered treatment and care. The Commission has developed a healthcare workforce survey on 'Use of palliative care predictive or prognostic tools' to inform work on improving the identification of people approaching end of life. Tell us what you think before the survey closes on 17 April 2020.

Clinical Trials Governance Framework pilot extended

Due to the increased burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission has extended the timeline for the pilot of the National Clinical Trials Governance Framework (Governance Framework) through to the end of the year. The web-based tools and resources will be released in the coming months. Health services that responded to the Expression of Interest to participate in the pilot will be contacted directly to ensure the revised timelines are within each site’s capacity to contribute. If you have questions, please contact the Commission's Clinical Trials team at CTGovernance@safetyandquality.gov.au.

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Working at the Commission

Meet Jan Gralton…

Photo of Suraj Rasakulasingam

Jan Gralton, Senior Advisor, Infection Prevention and Control and Healthcare Associated Infections

What did you do before the Commission? 
I worked at the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission in the Healthcare Associated Infections Program, developing the NSW CAUTis Prevention Project and the NSW Infection Prevention and Control Practice Handbook.

What do you do now? 
I’m the Senior Advisor in the Commission’s Infection Prevention and Control and Healthcare Associated Infections Program. Our program has a wide variety of projects including hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia and reprocessing of reusable medical devices. We also provide advice to other programs in the Commission that have crossovers with Infection Prevention and Control and Healthcare Associated Infections.

What do you love about your work? 
The diversity of work. We work on a range of topic areas and directly interact with all different types of people in healthcare – patients, clinicians, support services and policy makers.

What’s something that someone outside the Commission may not know about us? 
We are not in Canberra and while the Commission operates as part of the Department of Health, the Commission itself is a separate corporate Commonwealth entity.

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t: 02 9126 3000
e: mail@safetyandquality.gov.au