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September 2016


Messages from the Chair

Date Claimer - Health Consumers Queensland
2017 Annual Forum - Thursday 18th May

Health Consumers Queensland are pleased to announce we will be hosting our 2017 Annual Forum in Townsville, Queensland.  With such a successful event held this year in Brisbane, which focused on “Consumer Leadership” and “Consumer and Health Staff Partnerships” we wanted to move this regionally to showcase best practice consumer and community engagement from across Queensland.

The 2017 Annual Forum will be held on Thursday 18th May at Rydges Southbank, Townsville.
We’ll keep you updated on key themes, key note speakers and other information via our eNews, Facebook and on our website.
We asked, you said, we did: moving forward together: Implementation of the Government Response to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry (BACCOI) Report
The Queensland Government’s Response to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry report identified that the “consultation with Barrett families and consumers after the closure of Barrett was not ideal.  Beyond the involvement of carer and consumer representatives on the ECRG (Expert Clinical Reference Group) there was no evidence of any two-way consultation with Barrett families and consumers.  There was also no evidence of a process for receiving the views of patients, families and carers, and therefore no scope for those views to influence the decisionmaking about Barrett”.

Health Consumers Queensland is playing an important role in supporting the safe, meaningful engagement of young people, families and the community throughout the co-design of new services and implementation of the Government Response to the Commissioner’s recommendations.  We will work collaboratively with the Barrett community broader consumer, carer and community stakeholders to ensure that our strategic advice to the Department and our facilitation of appropriate engagement activities are always informed by their needs and preferences.

The Government Response to the BACCOI Report acknowledges the importance of consumer, carer and community engagement.  A Steering Committee has been set up and met for the first time on 31 August; it includes two consumer and two carer representatives.  As working groups are established under this Committee, they too will include consumer/carer representation.

Leonie Sanderson is our newly recruited Engagement Advisor.  Leonie has over 20 years of experience working in the consumer, engagement and community space and is looking forward to achieving positive outcomes on this significant project.  We will continue to provide regular updates about this project through our eNews.

Mark Tucker-Evans


Messages from The General Manager

In addition to delivery our training programs, providing strategic advice around engagement and placing consumers in representative roles, we have a number of important projects underway including the review of Health Consumers Queensland’s Consumer and Community Engagement Framework and a project with Griffith University to evaluate the outcomes of our work under contract with Queensland Health.  Both projects have a reference group that include consumers and carers to support their work.  We’ll keep you updated with opportunities for you to be involved.

Melissa has had the opportunity to speak on the value of the role of health consumers at a number of key events recently, including the Queensland Primary Health Care Network meeting focused on consumer engagement in Queensland, the Australian Day Hospitals Association conference, CheckUP’s Health Forum and at Akolade’s National Standards conference in Sydney.

Staff and members of our consumer network attended a two-day Mental Health First Aid course in our office.  It was a good chance to further broaden the professional development of staff and consumers at the same time.

Melissa Fox

Read More

In the Spotlight

Consumer profile:
Sharon Boyce, consumer member of the
Queensland Health Consumer Collaborative

A tower of strength and reason

Sharon Boyce is a woman with an abundance of dedication and drive; she is the chair of the Queensland Disability Advisory Council, is a long-term employee of University of Southern Queensland and a board member for Queenslanders with a Disability Network.  She’s a teacher, children’s author and business owner who employs around-the-clock carers to support her to live, work and play.  Those carers were more important than ever the first time she entered the hospital system.
In recognition of her dedication, drive and commitment to improving the lives of others she’s recently been awarded the prestigious USQ Alumnus of the Year and the Community Service Alumnus of the Year.  She also has won the Australian Human Rights Award for Individuals for her work with Discovering Disability and Diversity.  This is a mobile disability awareness program that Sharon designed that educates about all types of disability with a suite of experiential hands on activities.  She takes it into schools and organisations, universities and many other areas. (
The more Sharon’s disability impacted on her medically in recent years, the more she’s come to realise the opportunity to ‘fix’ things from the ground up.  “I don’t fit into MRI machines, CAT scans and transfer boards don’t work, my hoist doesn’t work well in those places or spaces,” she said.
“How do we better educate people from the ground-up to ensure that machines [and all systems] work for all different types of people and needs?  If the machines were designed with more flexibly it would be better for everyone.  Also if people really knew about different disabilities they may be able to support patients better.”
Although Sharon had been educating people about disability through experiential learning for some time, she said her recent bout of ill health and hospitalisation was very scary.  “I was powerless.  I had no voice as I had a Tracheostomy and was in a Coma.  I couldn’t get out of bed.  I couldn’t even touch my mobile phone.  I had no power, my hand movements were weak.  I couldn’t do sign language and I was totally trapped with thoughts in my head that I could not verbalise.  I was completely dependent on someone else to guess my needs – even as little as offering me a drink of water.  I had my family and carers there with my interests at their heart, but if I didn’t have that, how scary would it have been in such a busy place?  I was treated very differently without the ability to speak.  I was so glad when my tracheostomy was removed and my voice returned.  It made me even more passionate to be a voice for the voiceless.”
Sharon’s lived experience as a person who has high level physical disability, her going through a life-threatening illness, and her knowledge as an educator, and her strong links into many different communities all combines to make her a valuable consumer member of the Queensland Health Consumers Collaborative.  She’s hopeful her contributions will make a difference to others across Queensland.


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Sunshine Coast Partners in Recovery
consumer and carer groups

The consumers and carers advisory groups that are a part of the Sunshine Coast Partners in Recovery program came together twice to attend consumer training.  During that training, the group found value in sharing ideas and initiatives and enjoyed hearing of each other’s successes and achievements.

A key achievement of the consumer group was creating a brochure on the “Mental Health Road Map” for Sunshine Coast and Gympie.  It’s been written and created by peers for peers so the information is targeted and relevant.

A key achievement of the carer group was creating a new website of mental health resources.  Designed by carers for carers, it is full of information and ideas that will help others on a similar journey.


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October networking session

Canadian Patient Advocate - Carolyn Canfield

Highly respected Canadian Patient Safety Champion Carolyn Canfield will be the guest speaker at our Tuesday 11th October networking session.  The informal networking sessions are an opportunity for experienced consumer representatives to hear from a guest speaker and have a chance to report to peer consumers on their committee’s work and outcomes.

Carolyn’s discovery of patient safety and quality improvement began following the death of her husband in 2008 from failures in care, eight days after successful surgery.  For the past six years she has devoted her efforts to improving the system as a dedicated volunteer to inform and inspire patient engagement in healthcare improvement and to promote patient safety locally and internationally.  The Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Accreditation Canada recognised Carolyn Canfield as the individual recipient of the Canadian Patient Safety Champion Award for 2014.
To find out more about the networking session (Tuesday 11 October from 9.30 to 11.30 am) and to reserve your spot please go to our Eventbrite page.
Our final networking session for the year will be on Tuesday 6 December from 9.30 to 11.30 am in our Brisbane office.

Second Annual Survey

How can Health Consumers Qld support you?

We are conducting our second annual survey of consumers and carers in our network and of staff in health services and organisations.

This year’s survey will help us to understand the skills, experience and professional development and support needs of consumers and carers in our network and of health service staff.  It will also show us how consumer engagement activities are developing within health services across the state.  Completing the survey will ensure we can effectively support you for the next 12 months.

Here are links to the consumer and carer survey and the survey for staff of health services and organisations.
The survey closes on Wednesday 5 October 2016.   Alternatively you can phone the office on 07 3012 9090 during business hours and complete the survey over the phone with a staff member.

Highlights from our Annual Forum:

Engaging consumers in design of ward redevelopment

It’s important to engage with consumers at all stages of a project; from planning, service delivery and through to evaluation phases.  In the past consumers were often ‘consulted’ on building designs a week before a new ward or building were to open leaving little chance to make any meaningful changes.
At the Annual Forum in May, Christine Bryden a well-known dementia advocate and Suzanne Michaels from Caboolture and Kilcoy hospitals, presented on the ‘critical role of the consumer voice in designing a ward for those living with cognitive impairment.’  Staff involved in the process said: “I found having a consumer at our meetings was fantastic, they thought of things the clinical staff hadn’t,” and “having Christine on board for the design stage was a fantastic call, her knowledge can be put down as paramount to the functionality of the ward for all future patients – appropriate space and appropriate care for the diagnosis they have.”
Some of the key issues that needed to be considered for people living with cognitive impairment was their impaired depth perception, spatial disorientation, altered colour perception and reduced contrast perception.
You can read more about this presentation and of the other presentations and key note speeches at our Annual Forum at

$361 million strategy to slash outpatient wait lists


Queenslanders can look forward to better access to specialist outpatient appointments thanks to a Queensland-first initiative and a significant funding injection to tackle wait lists from the Queensland Government.
The strategy outlines 11 key investment initiatives for implementation by 2020 to improve the outpatient journey for Queenslanders:
  1. New clinical decision support tools to support GPs to make the best decisions by their patients
  2. A statewide service directory to ensure GPs know where to send their patients
  3. Electronic referral management systems to ensure patient referrals are sent to the right place first time
  4. Invest in new models of care by initiating new ways of providing optimal care
  5. More appointments across the public health system to ensure outpatients spend less time waiting
  6. More telehealth specialist services to give Queenslanders more appointments closer to home
  7. An online booking system to support patients to get appointments at a time suitable to them
  8. Ensure elective surgery is available to, if required, get patients their elective surgery at the right time
  9. Make review appointments available, if clinically required, to support patients in their journey
  10. Improve GP access to hospital information so GPs know about their patient’s hospital treatment
  11. Set clear and publicly available targets for specialist outpatient appointments to ensure patients know how long they will wait for treatment
You can read more about it in the strategy document:

Melissa Fox, General Manager, of Health Consumers Queensland spoke at the launch to more than 100 health leaders and other key stakeholders.  Melissa said we welcomed the inclusion of the consumer perspective in co-designing innovative solutions to accessing services in a timely manner. 
Watch the video here of Melissa with the Minister for Health:

Future of digital healthcare

Health Consumers Queensland has taken a look into the future of health care at a statewide digital health conference.  The Queensland Clinical Senate conference, ‘The digital transformation of health’, was held in Brisbane on 4 - 5 August 2016.

Among more than 180 senior Queensland clinicians and digital technology experts were Health Consumers Qld General Manager Melissa Fox, member Moya Sandow and Health Consumers Qld Chair, Mark Tucker-Evans.

Consumer Christine Slade presented on her experience as a patient before and after the Princess Alexandra Hospital went digital.

Mark said it was important to stay abreast of what was available in the digital heath space and how this can benefit consumers.  “We had the opportunity to hear from those who have implemented a digital hospital, listen to the experiences of clinicians using 3D printing technology in surgery and robotics in pharmacy,’ he said.  “It’s exciting to see what’s ahead for clinicians and consumers.’

The Queensland Clinical Senate is the state’s peak clinician advisory body that brings senior clinicians from across the state together three times a year to consider strategic health issues.

For more information about the Queensland Clinical Senate visit:

Follow the Senate

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Improving asthma re-admission rates

The Improving Asthma Emergency Department Discharge Processes to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates project, implemented at two south-east Queensland Hospitals in 2015, highlighted these key findings:
  • Patients who received the Asthma Emergency Department Discharge Process involving comprehensive education and provision of resources at time of discharge and follow-up education delivered by Asthma Foundation at two points in time were four times more likely to have well controlled asthma and were significantly more likely to use their delivery device correctly at five weeks post discharge at an estimated cost of $96 per person.
  • The delivery of brief education at time of discharge (particularly focusing on delivery device technique) and follow-up education delivered by Asthma Foundation at one point in time showed significant promise in enabling patients to gain well controlled asthma and improve associated self-management behaviours albeit over a longer period of time, at an estimated cost of $28 per person.
Whilst this project has highlighted the significant benefits of a systematic and formalised discharge process in asthma specific care, there is clear potential for learnings to be applied to the emergency department discharge processes for other disease states.

Read the full report here

Getting involved in research

Consumer IV Surveys

The Alliance for Vascular Access Teaching and Research (AVATAR) group at Griffith University specializes in research to prevent intravascular (IV) complications.  We are interested in the experience of having an intravenous cannula (also called an IV or a 'drip').  An IV cannula is a small plastic tube inserted into a vein in the hand, arm or leg and left in place for a while so you (or your child) could receive medications, fluids, or blood.

Invitation to Adults
If you are over the age of 18 years and have any experience of having an IV in the last 5 years, please use the link below to answer 10 brief questions.

Invitation to adults with children under 18 years
If you have had a child (less than 18 years of age) who has experienced having an IV in the last 5 years, please use the link below to answer 10 brief questions.

This survey is voluntary and anonymous, and your responses will help us learn more about the patient's experience of having an IV.

If you have questions about either survey, please contact
Professor Marie Cooke
Tel: 07 3735 5253

Obesity Prevention Priorities Research

  • Do you know someone who is overweight or obese?
  • Do you think their weight is solely their responsibility?
  • Do you think further government action is required?
  • Does government ‘interference’ make us a nanny state?

Bond University is conducting research into how Australians feel about the government’s role in obesity prevention, and would like you to help us.
We invite you to participate in a three-round online survey.  You will be emailed a link to each round once a month, for three months.  The first should take no more than 45 minutes to complete.  Round 2 and 3 should take no more than 20 minutes.
The study is part of my PhD at Bond University which I am working on with Dr Dianne Reidlinger, Dr Claire Palermo and Professor Paul Glasziou.
If you’d like to take part you can express interest by completing the participant information form

Please direct any questions to Emily Haynes

Antibiotics use by Australians

The Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are conducting important research on how Australian consumers use antibiotics.  

Consumers are often an overlooked group in understanding antibiotic resistance, but their input is essential in understanding this issue.

The study will require participants to complete a 15 minute online survey:  For every complete survey we will donate money to one of three charities.

Please direct any questions you have to:  

Dr Katie Page, Senior Research Fellow

07 3138 6180

0434 433033

Lauren Healey, Research Assistant

Last Word

Queensland disability review in schools

There’s an independent wide-ranging review into disability policy in Queensland state schools.

To find out more and to have your say click on the link:

Public lecture

The Legalisation of Medical Assistance in Dying - Lessons from Canada

When: Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Time: 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Venue: QUT Gardens Point campus.

For more information on this lecture by Canadian Professor Jocelyn Downie and to register (for free) by Thursday 13 October 2016.

In the News

Doctors need to be taught how
to discuss their patients’
excess weight

This story in The Conversation picks up on one of the discussion points at last year’s joint Queensland Clinical Senate and Health Consumers Queensland forum on ‘Every K over is a Killer: Putting the brakes on obesity.”
Boyer lectures 2016 – Michael
Marmot on the social
determinants of ill health

The 2016 Boyer Lecture Series turns a critical eye towards health policy.  Epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot discusses how social determinants such as birthplace and income can have a greater effect on our lives than access to healthcare.  He says, “Health inequalities arise from the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age – the social determinants of health.”

HEALTH PROMOTION CHARITY. Health Consumers Queensland © 2015. All rights reserved.

HEALTH PROMOTION CHARITY. Health Consumers Queensland © 2016. All rights reserved.


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