Eye and ear surgical services program: Achieving improved health outcomes through a comprehensive partnership approach

Karen Hale-Robertson1, Jacqui Hawgod2, Aidan Hobbs3

1CheckUP Australia, PO Box 3205 South Brisbane, QLD 4101, khalerobertson@checkup.org.au
2CheckUP Australia, PO Box 3205 South Brisbane, QLD 4101, jhawgood@checkup.org.au
3CheckUP Australia, PO Box 3205 South Brisbane, QLD 4101, ahobbs@checkup.org.au

The CheckUP Eye and Ear Surgical Services (EESS) Program aims to improve access to ENT and Ophthalmology surgical services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people living in rural and remote locations for the treatment of eye and hearing health.

Recognising the importance of comprehensive multidisciplinary care, the EESS program is directly supported by a range of integrated Allied Health, Nursing, General Practice and Medical Specialist services that are delivered through parallel Commonwealth funded Outreach programs. These wrap around services support the entire continuum of patient care – from the initial screening, diagnosis and then surgical intervention through to follow up care. This has resulted in the refinement and reduction of lengthy public surgical waitlists and improved the quality of services available to disadvantaged communities.

The delivery of successful surgery under the CheckUP EESS program has relied heavily upon innovative delivery models and collaborative support led by the local stakeholders within each community. These partnerships have resulted in local in-kind support including negotiated reductions in fees to cover patient travel and accommodation, catering, surgery and staff time, hospital and theatre, equipment and consumables as well as general patients support. Subsequently producing significantly greater patient numbers receiving surgery within the EESS budget.

The contribution of local partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups has been critical in optimising access to the EESS program. Patient support was provided by local Aboriginal liaison officers who are familiar with the patients and understand the care pathways required for surgery.

To date, under the CheckUP Surgical Services program, CheckUP in partnership with local stakeholders, have delivered cataract surgery to 92 patients across the South East and South West region and ENT surgery to 33 patients across the South East Region. Further cataract surgery is planned for the North West Region and ENT surgery planned for the Far North, North and Central Regions under the 15/16 CheckUP Surgical Services funding.

Biography

Karen Hale-Robertson provides leadership, management, planning and co-ordination across CheckUP’s programs and services. In particular, Karen oversees our Outreach program, which delivers a varied and comprehensive range of health services across Queensland. Karen is an experienced manager with a long career in the health and not-for-profit sectors. Karen’s experience also includes mental health policy and program coordination, not-for-profit workforce development, stakeholder engagement and consultation, business development, training, strategic and business planning and people management.  Karen holds undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in Not-for-Profit Management and Health Services Management.