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Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Spring 2020 eNews

Issue Friday 20 November

In this issue

Accreditation assessments recommence

NSQHS Standards Graphic

Onsite assessments under the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) and the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Schemes have now resumed.

From 25 March to 26 October 2020, accreditation to the NSQHS Standards and the RACGP Standards was maintained to bolster the capacity of our health system to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To allow accrediting agencies time for planning and preparing for upcoming assessments, an additional 12 months will be added to the certificate expiration date for all health service organisations and general practices.

Read our FAQs for health service organisations and FAQs for general practices or email accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au to find out more.

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‘Shifting Gears’ to consumer-centred care

COVID-19 Potential Treatments

Passionate about consumer leadership and collaboration in health care, or want to learn more about it?

Don’t miss CHF Summit 2021: Shifting Gears, Australia and New Zealand’s first conference dedicated to consumer experience and leadership in health care.

The inaugural summit will be held online on 18 and 19 March 2021, bringing consumers and health leaders together to explore and grow the concept and practice of consumer-centred care.

We’re pleased to be a partner for the summit, hosted by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, and invite you to join us in creating the change to a consumer-centred culture. 

Register now to take advantage of a special early bird rate.

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Driving improvements in opioid prescribing

Every day in Australia, nearly 150 hospitalisations and 14 emergency department presentations involve opioid harm. The rate of opioid prescribing in Australia continues to increase along with the safety issues relating to misuse, overdose and dependence.

To begin to address these issues, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has engaged the Commission to develop a national Opioid Stewardship Program in support of regulatory reforms for opioid prescribing in Australia.

Focusing on the acute hospital setting, the program seeks to support reform in the use of opioid analgesics, with improvements in emergency department and post-surgery prescribing expected to reduce opioid-related harm in primary care settings after discharge.

The Commission has established a Project Topic Working Group to provide expert advice and guide the development of resources for public consultation over the next six months. Stay tuned!

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Aussie suburbs with the highest antimicrobial use

A new report on antimicrobial medicines use in Australia has revealed a sustained pattern of high use in some of the most disadvantaged suburbs in major cities.

Consistently high use compared with other areas was identified in 22 suburbs including Mount Druitt, St Marys and Fairfield in New South Wales; Ipswich Inner, Beenleigh and Browns Plains in Queensland; and Sunbury and Tullamarine-Broadmeadows in Victoria. Three-quarters of these areas are in the lowest quintile of socioeconomic status.

For the first time, the report analyses antimicrobial dispensing over five years at Primary Health Network and local area levels as well as national and state levels.

While the report shows a promising 13.3% drop in national antimicrobial dispensing over five years, Australia’s use of antimicrobials on any given day remains high by international standards – more than double that of The Netherlands or Sweden.

Access the full interactive report to explore and benchmark antimicrobial use in your area.

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National Clinical Trials Governance Framework pilot

The pilot of the National Clinical Trials Governance Framework recently commenced in 14 sites comprising more than 30 health services across Australia. The pilot will assist health services to assess their capacity to meet the actions in the Clinical Governance and Partnering with Consumers Standards for clinical trial services as well as identify additional resources that may be needed to support national implementation. Running until March 2021, the pilot will pave the way for the national implementation of the Governance Framework later next year.

Not part of the pilot? Register online to access the self-assessment tool and operational metrics tool, and provide voluntary feedback via the online survey by 1 December.

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New taskforce tackles COVID transmission in hospitals

COVID-19 Latest Update

COVID-19 has prompted an intense focus on the importance of the complete suite of infection prevention and control practices required to protect healthcare workers and patients.

As part of its core role in this area, the Commission has convened a National Clinical Taskforce to review the Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infection Standard (HAI Standard) against current evidence about COVID-19 transmission. This taskforce will review transmission-based precautions, and environmental and other controls in hospital settings to protect the safety of patients and healthcare workers.

Chaired by Professor Anne Duggan, Clinical Director of the Commission's COVID-19 Rapid Response Unit, the taskforce brings together some of the nation’s leading infection prevention and control experts and representatives from colleges, specialty societies and industrial organisations. After meeting for the first time at the end of October, the taskforce expects to deliver their findings and recommendations to governments at the end of November.


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On their way… new Digital Mental Health Standards

Man with computer

With unprecedented demand for digital delivery of mental health services this year, we’re excited to announce the imminent release of our new National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards.

Set for release on 30 November, the new standards will provide assurance for consumers and guidance for service providers and technology developers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced strong demand for both digital health services and mental health services, with more than three quarters of Australians reporting their mental health had been impacted since the outbreak.

The NSQDMH Standards will support the delivery of high quality and safe care including counselling, treatment and peer-to-peer support services via telephone, videoconference, websites, SMS, webchat and mobile apps.

Register now to join an expert panel for a live online event to launch the standards on Monday 30 November at 12.30pm AEDT. Hosted by Sophie Scott, award-winning ABC National Medical Reporter, the webcast will explore the opportunities and challenges of online delivery and the difference the standards will make to the quality of care.

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Healthcare rights now in 10 languages

Everyone should know their rights when it comes to healthcare.

This is why we now have 10 community language versions of our popular resource My Healthcare Rights – A guide for people with cognitive impairment. These translations explain the rights all people have to safe and high-quality care, informed consent and open disclosure. An 'Easy English' version  About healthcare rights for people with cognitive impairment – Easy English Guide – is also available.

For more information, tools and resources go to cognitivecare.gov.au.

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Our COVID close contact tracers

Since March 2020, a team of 25 dedicated Commission staff has made more than 20,000 phone calls to Australians identified as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Following a direction issued under subsection 21(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, the Commission formed a surge team to contribute to the critical COVID response.

Redeployed to assist the NSW Ministry of Health with close contact tracing, the team underwent bespoke training before making a swift transition to new roles requiring sharp analytical skills and an empathetic approach.

Both making and receiving the calls has been challenging at times, with recipients showing emotions ranging from confusion to anxiety, frustration and anger. However, our contact tracers report that it has been a unique and rewarding experience to support so many Australians caught up in the pandemic this year.

Thank you to all of our contact tracers!

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Quick bites

Informed consent

New guidance has been developed on informed consent. The Informed consent fact sheet sets out the importance of clear communication, discussion and shared decision-making with the person receiving care, before obtaining informed consent. The fact sheet also provides information on key principles for informed consent, clinicians' ethical and legal responsibilities, consumer rights and links to useful resources. Find out more on the Informed Consent page.

Comprehensive Care Standard case studies wanted!

Do you have a success story or have you made changes to improve care? The Commission is seeking real case studies from health service organisations sharing their experiences of implementing the Comprehensive Care Standard. Selected case studies will be published on the Commission’s website to guide other health service organisations in implementing the standard. To express interest, please email: partneringwithconsumers@safetyandquality.gov.au.

Goals of care short video for consumers

Identifying goals of care through shared decision-making is an important part of delivering comprehensive care. We’ve developed a short video animation to show the importance of goal setting to achieve health outcomes. Watch it here and contact us for a copy to share with consumers in your health service.

National Safety and Quality Primary Healthcare Standards consultation

Help shape Australia’s first safety and quality standards for the primary healthcare sector.
Our draft National Safety and Quality Primary Healthcare Standards are now available for review and comment until Friday 29 January 2021. Visit our consultation page to review the draft standards, and to submit your feedback or register to participate in an online consultation forum next week.

Acute Anaphylaxis Clinical Care Standard consultation open

Potentially life threatening, anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and hospital presentations in Australia are increasing. Our draft Acute Anaphylaxis Clinical Care Standard and supporting materials are now open for public consultation. Share your comments via our online survey before Sunday 13 December.

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Working at the Commission

Meet Suellen Allen, Director of the Communicating for Safety, Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment programs, and former midwife and nurse…

Photo of Professor Anne Duggan

What does International Year of the Nurse and Midwife mean to you?
The World Health Organisation declared 2020 the International year of the Nurse and Midwife in recognition of the vital role they play in providing health services internationally. WHO states ‘these are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children; giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice; looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs. They are often, the first and only point of care in their communities.

This statement has particular importance this year in recognising nurses and midwives around the world working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What did you do before the Commission?
I’ve had a long career working in the health sector since 1983. I’ve worked as a midwife and a registered nurse in various clinical, education, consultant and policy advisor roles in the NSW public health sector. My last role as the clinical advisor for maternity services at NSW Health introduced me to the emerging importance of patient safety. In 2005 I changed my focus from policy to research in the area of patient safety, completing a PhD in patient safety culture and postdoctoral research in open disclosure.

What do you do now?
I am the Director of the Communicating for Safety, Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic I have been the manager of the Commission’s satellite close contact tracing team who have been redeployed to support NSW Health.

What is something that is not well known about us?
Our teams bring a huge variety of knowledge and experience which allows them to effectively translate the Commission’s work into practical and meaningful support for the health sector.

The Commission has a number of nurses and midwives working across programs, providing valuable knowledge and experience to inform our work. This expertise spans clinical, academic, policy, data and strategic leadership. Nurses and midwives represent a large percentage of the health workforce. The Commission recognises the expertise that nurses and midwives working in the health system bring to enhance our work and has engaged their input across our advisory groups.

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e: mail@safetyandquality.gov.au