As previously notified, the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care is maintaining accreditation. You can view the announcement here. We are advised that all benefits (PIP, WIP etc) will continue for practices where their accreditation certificate has expired during this period.
This advice is in line with current government recommendations and mandates regarding the need for social distancing, isolation and infection control measures.
While it is not possible for any of us to know when the recovery phase of the pandemic will begin, the ACSQHC has advised that sufficient notice will be given for any resumption of accreditation activities.
In order to manage the uncertainty for practices and surveyors, QPA is adopting the following operational procedures:
- Pending advice from the Commission, QPA will provide at least one month’s notice for any postponement of practice visits
- Consistent with this policy, all practice visits for April and May 2020 will be postponed. We will make a decision after consultation with the Commission on a postponement of June visits on 30 April and continue to provide advice at the end of each month on a rolling basis
- Any emergency response plan needs to have a policy, procedure and process to ensure orderly and timely return to normal operations
- QPA will continue to plan and prepare for booked visits through to the end of the year, to allow for this orderly return to normal operations. Practices that have their accreditation visits postponed will be offered tentative visits in due course.
In the meantime, now is not the time to put quality and accreditation at the bottom of your to do list. Those who promote accreditation as a tired old template, tick a box system are doing practices and patients a disservice.
We would encourage and urge all practices to consider their quality systems regularly with reference to the standards and the evolving COVID-19 situation.
In particular, review your current systems now in regard to:
- Emergency response planning
- Infection control and cleaning
- Triage and appointments, particularly in light of the new telehealth items
- Risk management – consider what risks might apply with telehealth consultations and discuss practice guidelines for when patients require face to face consultations
- Vaccine storage and cold chain management
- Clinical stock control and waste management
- Workplace health and safety
Clearly allocate responsibilities to individuals for each of these areas and ensure that position statements or job descriptions reflect the current circumstances. Questions are just as important as answers.
Look after your people. Anxiety and fear are normal emotional reactions. Do not assume that all of your doctors and staff are fully aware of written policies and procedures or know how to apply these. To view our webinar discussing this, please register for the recording here.
QPA will continue to operate at this time as long as possible, while protecting and supporting our people. QPA will offer enhanced support for practices and surveyors during this time. A series of small group zoom teleconferences will be offered to allow practices to have discussions with our team. Our Quality Accreditation Managers will continue to make contact will all practices, particularly those affected by the postponement of visits and accreditation.
While the following may not apply to your practice, in our practice, we are reviewing procedures with reface to the standards and published professional and Government announcements at least every second day through Zoom meetings with doctors and staff. All patients are now being triaged through a telehealth consultation and managed appropriately according to stringent clinical guidelines. We are actively identifying patients at risk and advising them by telephone, use of an SMS and social media of the need for infection control and social isolation. Where any uncertainty exists, patients are offered a face to face consultation and we have established a respiratory/fever clinic with appropriate entrance and isolation. We are developing a process for influenza vaccination and follow up of patients.
In this environment it is easy to become stressed, anxious and even depressed. We all should try to find some beauty in the world outside of our practice and medicine. Let me share with you, something beautiful I have discovered, a song played by my American guitar teacher here.
Dr Paul Mara – Managing Director