14 December 2020

Queensland’s sickest and most seriously injured children and young people have continued to access safe, timely healthcare services despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service 2019-20 Annual Report tabled in Parliament today.

At 30 June 2020, the Queensland Children’s Hospital emergency department had seen 100 per cent of Category 1 (most urgent) patients within the clinically recommended time and exceeded targets for Categories 2 to 5. The median wait time for treatment in the emergency department was 13 minutes, an improvement on the 20-minute wait time in the previous year.

In response to social distancing requirements, Children’s Health Queensland moved quickly and adapted service delivery models to ensure safe and continuous care for families across the state. This saw telehealth appointments increase by 153 per cent compared to 2018-19 – a move that saved families across Queensland more than 7,121,674 km in travel to and from the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Despite the planned reduction in non-urgent elective surgeries in March as part of the statewide pandemic response, 98.8 per cent of Category 1 patients, and 95.2 per cent of Category 3 patients were seen in the clinically recommended times. Non-urgent elective surgery has increased safely since late April, with staff working hard to treat the Category 2 patients who had their procedures rescheduled.

In total, the Queensland Children’s Hospital admitted 37,713 inpatients, provided 230,363 outpatient appointments and treated 66,216 emergency department presentations between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Frank Tracey said the organisation had continued to deliver on its commitment to provide safe, high-quality and accessible health care for Queensland children and young people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way people around the world live, work, socialise – and, importantly, access healthcare services,” Mr Tracey said.

“Our exceptional teams in the Queensland Children’s Hospital, in our community clinics and in outreach services across Queensland have adapted and activated new models of service delivery to ensure we can continue to provide care and support to patients and families across the state.

“Sustaining such a high level of activity in 2019-20 in the face of unprecedented challenges is a testament to our dedicated front-line clinicians and support staff working together with a shared commitment to excellence and the wellbeing of children and young people,” Mr Tracey said.

While the COVID-19 response and recovery dominated the first half of 2020, Children’s Health Queensland worked closely with Hospital and Health Services around the state to make significant progress on extending the reach and impact of its specialist services, to ensure the best outcomes for every Queensland child – regardless of where they live.

In April 2020, Children’s Health Queensland opened Jacaranda Place, an Australian-first adolescent extended treatment centre for young Queenslanders experiencing severe and complex mental illness.
The $27 million purpose-built centre at Chermside delivers specialist care in a safe, supportive and structured environment, with treatment focused on improving life skills, and increasing a young person’s capacity and confidence to successfully reconnect with their family and community.

Children’s Health Queensland also launched the Queensland Paediatric Emergency Care website in late 2019, a suite of online resources developed in partnership with Clinical Excellence Queensland to support clinicians in the delivery of consistent, high-quality paediatric emergency care, regardless of which hospital a child presents at across Queensland.

Other highlights in the 2019-2020 year included:

  • Commencement of fit-out of a new inpatient ward on Level 12 of the Queensland Children’s Hospital. The $20 million expansion project, on track for completion in late 2020, will deliver a 29-bed neurosurgical and orthopaedic ward, as well as six more dedicated oncology beds.  The project is supporting up to 100 jobs during construction.
  • Expansion of the Navigate Your Health program, which aims to improve health outcomes for children and young people in care, to include young people involved with the youth justice system. The program is now supporting children in Brisbane, Logan and Cairns in partnership with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women and the Department of Youth Justice.
  • Creation of Australia’s first pathway for the assessment and management of paediatric stroke, to ensure children with signs of suspected stroke are diagnosed faster and receive treatments that can significantly improve their long-term health outcomes.
  • Launch of the MyQCHapp to provide patients and families with convenient and timely access to a range of searchable information about the Queensland Children’s Hospital including service profiles and contacts, visitor information, educational videos and parking information.
  • Securing $6.89 million in research funding (including grants and clinical trials), including vital work in oncology, critical care, respiratory medicine and infectious diseases.
  • Publication of Birdie and the Virus, a new COVID-19-specific addition to the Birdie’s Tree series of children’s books created to support the mental health and wellbeing of young children during and after a natural disaster or unusual event.

The Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service 2019-2020 Annual Report is available online at www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/chq/about-us/our-performance