Australian Health Review highlights COVID-19 need for equity, business positives, coalface issues

Friday, August 7, 2020

‘COVID-19 perspectives from academia to the boardroom to the coalface are a feature of the August issue of Australian Health Review’, says the journal’s Editor-in-Chief Dr Sonĵ Hall.

Australian Health Review is the peer-reviewed journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘Our August THA features a policy reflection piece by Derek Feeley, recently retired President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, Dr Hall said.

‘Derek argues that there can be no quality in healthcare without equity, a situation highlighted by the 2020 rise of COVID-19 and the (late) worldwide acknowledgement of institutional and structural racism.

‘He argues that “even if the novel coronavirus hadn’t disproportionately ravaged communities of colour [in the US], or if George Floyd hadn’t been killed by the police, equity would still need to be at the core of any conception of what health care quality should look like over the next 20 years”.

‘Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Engineers Australia, was one of a select group led by the Defence Department who met in 2019 to ask the "What if....?” question and test Australia’s vulnerabilities.

‘In her policy reflection piece Bronwyn finds many positives in the resilience and agility of Australian businesses in responding to the pandemic. She observes that during COVID, industry has had much greater collaboration than previously with unions, clients, government, associations and peers. CEOs are keen to see this continue because it will be essential to Australia’s recovery and future prosperity.’

‘In addition to the reflection pieces, we have some interesting perspectives from the healthcare coalface on COVID-19’, Dr Hall said.

‘An author team from the Australian Society of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, and RMIT, reviewed approaches to protection of the radiation therapy workforce during COVID-19. They found interpretation and implementation of infection control guidelines to be varied across Australian radiation therapy departments.

‘For example, while one department asked senior staff to work from home in fortnightly blocks to create physical distancing, another directed that working from home was “not appropriate at this point of time”. The authors provide several recommendations for implementing a consistent national approach.

‘A team from the Queensland University of Technology quickly surveyed the willingness of pharmacists to assist in meeting the critical need for health workforce capacity during disasters—because of their numbers and availability in local areas.

‘An encouraging 70–80% of pharmacists were willing to step up to the plate to assist’, Dr Hall said.

‘Meanwhile a research team based at Concord Repatriation General Hospital and Sydney Local Health District conducted tests for fit and for air leakage across five different types of respirator masks, using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

‘The team found it was rare that individuals were unable to find a mask that fitted them properly out of the five types, but due to supply problems it was not common for all five types to be available.

‘The research team also picked up significant differences between qualitative assessment of good fit and quantitative assessment that measured actual air leakage. But there was little evidence on whether fitting masks according to quantitative assessment resulted in a measurable reduction in infection transmission rates.’ 


The August 2020 edition of Australian Health Review can be accessed hereMore information on AHHA is available at

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Dr Sonĵ Hall, Editor in Chief, Australian Health Review, 0427 613 587