In 2019–20, the Commission achieved a number of goals in line with the 2019–20 Health Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan 2019–20. The Commission continued to deliver consistently high-quality and valuable work in areas that can be improved through national coordination and action.
The Commission reviewed and refreshed its strategic priorities in 2019–20, and developed a Strategic Intent 2020–2025. The new Strategic Intent reflects a revitalised agenda for the next five years that aligns with, and builds on, the Commission’s strategic direction to date.
Key to the Commission’s strategic priorities are partnerships led at a national level, supported by local activities and implementation. To facilitate these national partnerships, the Commission works closely with patients, carers and clinicians; the Australian, state and territory health systems; the private sector; managers; and health service organisations to achieve a safe, high‑quality and sustainable health system.
The Commission works with its partners to support the implementation of safety and quality initiatives by developing guidance, resources, tools and educational materials. The Commission also supports the evaluation of its activities, and measurement of the impact of initiatives to improve safety and quality on the health system. The Commission continually looks to identify new and emerging safety and quality issues, while being responsive to the evolving needs of its partners and the healthcare system.
In 2019–20, Australian and international healthcare systems faced new challenges from the COVID‑19 pandemic. During this period, the Commission worked flexibly to respond to changing needs and risks within the healthcare system. This included expanding on and communicating national guidance on infection prevention and control; developing new information and resources on COVID‑19 for health services, clinicians and consumers; redeploying staff to support critical pandemic response activities including contact tracing and investigations; and adjusting work plan activities to avoid placing undue pressure on the healthcare system.
The need to support the health system to respond to the COVID‑19 pandemic has required the Commission to work differently, both operationally and strategically. The Commission has taken a risk management approach to balancing work plan activities with new requests and redeployment directions, and continually monitored the progress of deliverables. Consequently, the Commission has been able to progress its strategic priorities as planned and deliver the work plan, while at the same time responding and providing support to the health system to operate safely during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
In 2019–20 some of the Commission’s key achievements include:
- Development of a range of resources to support health service organisations in understanding and meeting the requirements of the second edition of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards, including guides, fact sheet, tools and case studies
- Implementation of reform strategies to the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation Scheme, including instituting repeat assessments for health services that are required to remediate a large number of actions, introducing voluntary short-notice assessments, recognising exemplar practices and commencing work on public reporting of accreditation outcomes
- Development and piloting of the National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards, and in response to the increased demand for digital mental health services during the COVID‑19 pandemic, the development of tip sheets for consumers, carers and clinicians to help them choose a digital mental health service to use or recommend
- Development and publication of detailed reports for each of the Antimicrobial Use and Resistance Surveillance System programs including the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, the Hospital National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey, the Aged Care National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey, National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program and CARAlert
- Development and release of the second edition of the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights, which describes what consumers, or someone they care for, can expect when receiving health care
- Ongoing management of a clinical safety program for the My Health Record system, and delivery of two clinical safety reviews on secure messaging and the use of the My Health Record in residential aged care services
- Development of three clinical care standards on third and fourth degree perineal tears, cataract, and peripheral intravenous catheters, which identify and define the care people should expect to receive or be offered, and can support the delivery of appropriate care and reduction of unwarranted variation
- Development and publication of guidance to support the delivery of safe care during the COVID‑19 pandemic, including guidance on the use of masks, reintroduction of elective surgery, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, medication use for COVID‑19, and infection control and prevention.