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Wide Bay oral health team finalist at Premier’s Excellence Awards

The Wide Bay Oral Health Service is in the running for a prestigious Premier’s Excellence Award tomorrow night, after an extraordinary turnaround of dental waiting times during the 2018-19 year.

Since January 2019, the Wide Bay Oral Health Service team has turned its performance around from patients waiting up to three years for general dental treatment to a maximum wait of 22 months – which is within the clinically recommended timeframe of two years.

The team’s hard work and innovation led to a 50% increase in activity, resulting in about 17,000 patients being treated and a reduction in the waiting list from 15,646 people in September 2018 down to 8,939 in June 2019.

Their efforts have led to the Wide Bay Oral Health Service being named as a finalist in the Keep Queenslanders Healthy category in the statewide awards.

Vivienne Barker, who helped oversee the turnaround as Acting Operations Director of Oral Health, said the changes came after the team reviewed its processes, resources and patient flow, before putting in place a comprehensive action plan.

“This really has been a huge team effort driven by better patient outcomes, and our team is very excited to be attending the Premier’s Excellence Awards as a finalist tomorrow night,” Ms Barker said.

“Wide Bay has the highest number of people eligible for public dental services in Queensland, presenting a significant challenge for our health service – but one we’ve embraced.

“We focused on targeting immediate wait list management, including through giving people the option of turning up and waiting for a cancelled appointment.

“We noticed a number of people weren’t turning up for their appointments and weren’t notifying us, so we didn’t want those to go to waste and we wanted to give people the chance to pick up quick last-minute urgent appointments if they were prepared to wait.

“We also coupled that with changes to our overall processes and governance structures, to enable the improvements to be sustainable.”

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson praised the oral health team for their efforts to address the needs of their patients to provide them with more timely access to the care they need.

“I congratulate our entire oral health team for being named as a finalist in the Premier’s Excellence Awards as its worthy recognition for their outstanding work to ensure our community has more timely access to oral health care,” Ms Jamieson said.

“Whether it’s access to a general dental appointment or being seen for a denture referral, there has been huge improvements for our patients and our entire team should be very proud of their achievements and subsequent recognition at the Premier’s Excellence Awards.

“It’s a great example of WBHHS staff putting the goals of our strategic plan Care Comes First… Through Patients’ Eyes into action.”

WBHHS Acting Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said the transformation provided the WBHHS with a blue print for a sustainable oral health service, as well as serving as a model for other specialties of what can be achieved with strong multidisciplinary leadership.

“It’s wonderful to see our Wide Bay Oral Health Service take on what was a big and make changes that are not a short-term fix, but sustainable over a longer period,” Ms Carroll said.

“There’s been a number of steps taken to improve patient access including notifying patients via SMS of appointments instead of via post, filling last-minute cancelled appointments with drop-in patients off the waiting list, using and analysing high-quality data and better communication between team members.

“Well done to the oral health team on their outstanding achievements in such a short time frame and this fantastic recognition as a finalist in the Premier’s Excellence Awards.”

Last updated: 5 December 2019