Queensland harnesses COVID lessons to build more ‘responsive’ health system

By Melissa Coade

February 21, 2022

Yvette D’Ath
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

A new roadmap to strengthen the Queensland health system – with a view to it being more united, innovative and agile – has captured lessons about how the COVID-19 pandemic changed individual and system behaviours.

Health minister Yvette D’Ath released the report on Friday, saying it was developed with the input of clinicians, health experts, consumers, unions and other stakeholders.

“Our health leaders and health workforce know that innovation is key to the delivery of quality healthcare,” D’Ath said.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have harnessed Queensland Health’s innovative spirit to continue to provide world-class health care during a public health emergency.

“We will be consulting with stakeholders on the recommendations of this report to see how we can best harness and unleash the potential of our health system into the future.”

D’Ath added reduced bureaucracy and increased data sharing across the health system had been achieved as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These positive changes should be preserved after the public health crisis was over.

“We want to capitalise on the successful initiatives undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic to create an even better health system for all Queenslanders,” she said. 

The Unleashing the Potential: an open and equitable health system report includes 17 recommendations for accelerating improvements towards a more ‘open health system’. They include:

  • Establishing health equity in access to services and health outcomes
  • Creating a high-value, integrated health system
  • Developing an innovative system and empowered workforce
  • Establishing system-level accountability to enable greater collaboration

A reform planning group chaired by Meegan Fitzharris authored the report and they highlighted changes brought about by COVID – such as virtual care, more collaboration to develop new models of care, and flexible work arrangements – as essential reforms.

“The public release of this report will initiate a broader conversation of how we can drive further reform of our health system, using the lessons learnt throughout the pandemic,” Fitzharris said. 

Other members of the group included health experts and leaders Adrian Carson, Shaun Drummond, Melissa Fox, professor Sabina Knight, professor Keith McNeil, Beth Mohle and Dr John Pickering. Former health secretary Dr Stephen Duckett was an independent advisor to the group. 


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