Calls for ongoing ethical collaboration in the health sector in the wake of COVID-19

Hands trying to fit two puzzle pieces together.

Unprecedented cooperation among stakeholders at all levels of the Australian health sector that occurred in response to COVID-19, demonstrates the ongoing need for ethical collaboration for the sake of the community and healthcare systems, according to the Australian Ethical Health Alliance.

In the wake of the pandemic, public and private hospitals cooperated to make beds available for the care of patients affected by COVID-19.
Government and industry worked together to increase the supply of critical medical equipment and medicines needed to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients including ventilators, testing kits and protective gear for healthcare workers.

Consumer and industry groups have supported each other in identifying and addressing community and healthcare needs, and federal, and state governments cooperated to reduce the impact of the pandemic nationally.

The Alliance said that these actions illustrate how ethical collaboration and interaction among healthcare sector organisations, and those who work within them, can benefit patients, consumers, communities, populations, healthcare systems and the healthcare sector.

The impact as a result of the cooperation between stakeholders has also highlighted the importance of the Australian Ethical Health Alliance substantive and procedural principles, Australian Consensus Framework for Ethical Collaboration in the Healthcare Sector (ACF).

The framework not only provides the basis for how the healthcare sector should function during times of crisis but also a roadmap for how stakeholders can cooperate in future.

The framework has over 70 signatories spanning the entire health sector, including industry, government, professional and consumer organisations, several of which were involved in collaborative COVID-19 efforts.

For example, professional organisations and consumer advocacy groups came together with device manufacturers to seek authorisation from the competition watchdog for manufacturers to work together on supply issues, the Alliance said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a terrible impact on the Australian and global community, but it has reminded us of the importance of ethics, social solidarity and engagement in building public trust and promoting collective action for the benefit of all, said the Alliance.

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