Clinician Connect

Supporting the health system through COVID-19

By Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque

26 Oct 2021 Reading time approximately

We have now been living with the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years. In that time, the NSW health system has demonstrated agility and resilience; particularly through this latest outbreak of the Delta strain.

The system has been responsive to the changes and disruption that a pandemic causes. In NSW, we have been successful in bringing together the best clinical expertise with the latest evidence to inform our response to COVID-19.

The NSW Health Critical Intelligence Unit (CIU) continues to play a significant role, providing the latest evidence and data to inform decision-making and clinical practice across NSW Health. Read more about the great work of the CIU in our feature story.

The Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) continues to support 12 of the NSW Health COVID-19 communities of practice, leveraging the expertise and knowledge of clinicians from across the state to work on key clinical guidance to support the planning and provision of healthcare. Existing guidelines are regularly reviewed, and new clinical guidance has been developed in response to the Delta strain and emerging treatments.

We are being responsive to specific community needs. The Stay Connected program is supporting health staff and hospital patients with virtual visiting; and a new model has been created with mob, for mob, to support shared decision-making about COVID-19 vaccines between Aboriginal people and their health workers. Read more about this in our guest editorial.

Like all organisations across NSW Health, the ACI deployed a significant number of staff to vaccination centres, the Public Health Response Branch, the State Health Emergency Operations Centre and the Critical Intelligence Unit to support the system response to COVID-19.

This is all while continuing to deliver important initiatives, such as Telestroke and the Patient Reported Measures Program.

A time for transformation

As a community, we are transitioning to living with the virus over the longer term. This provides a rare window of opportunity for the system to transform. It is a time to harness emerging models to do things differently – which is both daunting and exciting.

We have a unique opportunity to leverage the collaboration across ACI’s clinical networks and communities of practice, taking forward key learnings from the pandemic and considering new ways of working that have been effective across the system. It is a time for our clinical networks and teams to awaken to new possibilities.

The pandemic impacts people in different ways and we have all had a different experience of working under the pressures that this unique environment has introduced. For many, it has (and continues to be) a very anxious time.

Mental health has never been a more important topic than now. In this issue, the ACI Mental Health Network has provided a valuable insight into the collaborative work taking place across the Zero Suicides in Care project; and Dr Tracey Tay shares her experience working with a national team of clinicians to collate and share important resources that support health worker wellbeing through the Pandemic Kindness Movement.

Thank you to our Board Chair

After many years in the role, Professor Brian McCaughan has completed his term as the Chair of the shared Agency for Clinical Innovation and Clinical Excellence Commission Board.

Brian has provided exceptional leadership to the ACI over many years, using his clinical expertise and extensive experience to steer the ACI during its evolution to the organisation we are today.

I would like to acknowledge and thank Brian for his incredible contribution. You can read more about the significant role Brian has played across NSW Health in our feature story.

Read more articles from Clinician Connect

Back to top