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We helped a health agency prepare for future public health emergencies

Our Work | Case Study

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The ACT Health Directorate oversees health policy in the Australian Capital Territory.

Agency wanted to prepare for future public health emergencies

COVID-19 tested health agencies around the world, and the ACT Health Directorate was no exception.

The Health Directorate engaged us to review the operating model implemented in a dynamic environment and subject to close public scrutiny to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The directorate was keen to consider the optimal structure, governance, processes and operating model to best manage future public health emergencies and pandemic scenarios.

This work is being used to inform advice for government decisions on an enhanced public health emergency management capability.

We consulted stakeholders in interviews and focus groups

We consulted broadly, including one-on-one online interviews with more than 50 ACT Health executives and senior staff members, and representatives from other ACT Government directorates. We supplemented these interviews with six in-person focus groups with operational staff involved in the COVID-19 response.

We used the Nous Organisational Architecture Framework (NOAF) and key lines of enquiry to guide our approach. Findings were aggregated into key themes and mapped against the NOAF for analysis to inform advice on the operating model for a future public health emergency response.

We mapped out a future operating model

We delivered findings and recommendations in a final report. We also presented a framework for an operating model for an enhanced public health emergency management capability.

Our work has permitted the Health Directorate to put advice to the ACT Government to establish an expanded Preparedness, Planning and Surveillance team. This team now has a mandate and capacity to undertake strategic and operational planning for future public health emergencies, including revision of the ACT Health Emergency Plan.

Enhanced planning and preparedness permit more nuanced engagement and support for priority populations in the ACT. They provide the foundation for drawing on a trained workforce for future surge management as well as streamlined recruitment, on-boarding and off-boarding processes.

The ACT Government is creating scope for public health emergency management capability to be employed with partner agencies to respond to future environmental and biosecurity scenarios beyond public health emergencies.

What you can learn from this project

Maintaining planning and preparedness functions in advance of and during a public health emergency is just as important as having operational capability.

Planning health emergency responses require a scalable, fit-for-purpose structure that promotes role clarity.

Strategic workforce planning, clear governance arrangements and scalable business-as-usual systems are critical to an effective public health emergency response.