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New expert panel to bring latest evidence and clinical experience together to prevent COVID-19 transmission in healthcare settings

30 November, 2020

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has today announced the membership of its new expert panel for infection prevention and control (IPC), which will be jointly chaired by the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG).

The formation of the panel addresses calls from the clinical sector to strengthen capacity for emerging evidence and frontline clinical experience to inform national IPC guidance for healthcare workers.

Taskforce Executive Director, Associate Professor Julian Elliott has welcomed the opportunity to bring robust evidence capability and broad clinical engagement to the development of IPC guidance and provide much-needed reassurance to Australian healthcare workers and their patients.

‘The deep anxiety around the high rate of transmission of COVID-19 within healthcare settings is warranted. This is an area where the capacity to be continually reviewing data as soon as it emerges, and the ability to bring the clinical community together to develop consensus where there isn’t strong evidence to draw upon is critical.’

The panel was selected from a highly accomplished field of more than 60 applicants. ‘We have worked closely with ICEG and the 32 peak clinical bodies who are members of Taskforce to ensure it brings a diversity of expertise across clinical specialities and healthcare settings, as well as IPC and occupation health expertise.’

The IPC Panel will be co-chaired by Dr Phillipa Hore (Taskforce nominee) and Professor John Ferguson (ICEG nominee). The 17-member panel draws on some of Australia’s foremost experts in evidence-based clinical practice, infection prevention and control, occupation and environmental health, occupational hygiene and clinical engineering.

‘Frontline colleagues have voiced concerns that need to be addressed to provide the confidence to safely care for their patients.  I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to work with each of the members of this panel, all of whom have expressed a deep desire to work collaboratively and bring a robust, evidence-based approach to tackling these incredibly important and challenging issues,’ Dr Hore said.

The IPC panel will also have the full breadth of the Taskforce to draw upon – over 230 clinical and evidence experts that have been maintaining weekly updates to Australia’s world-leading living guidelines for the clinical care of people with COVID-19 since April.

Professor Ferguson acknowledged the significant boost to ICEG’s capacity.

‘The ability to draw on the new panel’s insights and experiences will enhance our response to emerging questions and the expressed concerns about COVID-19 transmission and healthcare risks. Accessing the Taskforce infrastructure means we can now look more deeply at those fast-moving areas of research, observational data and real-world experience.’

The IPC Panel will convene for the first time on Wednesday and will meet weekly thereafter. Recommendations developed by the Panel will be available online to clinicians across Australia via the Taskforce website and digital guideline platform.

New IPC Panel Members

  • Professor John Ferguson (Co-Chair, ICEG Nominee)
  • Dr Phillipa Hore (Co-Chair, Taskforce nominee)
  • Dr Penny Burns (Expertise in Primary care)
  • Ms Kate Cole (Expertise in Occupational Hygiene)
  • Ms Kathy Dempsey (Expertise in IPC)
  • Melanie Dicks (Expertise in Care of Older People)
  • Bridget Ferguson (Expertise in Women’s Health)
  • Associate Professor Deborah Friedman (Expertise in Infectious Diseases and IPC)
  • Dr Briony Hazelton (Expertise in Paediatric and Adolescent Health)
  • Nicole King (Expertise in Operative/Perioperative Care)
  • Associate Professor Sally McCarthy (Expertise in Emergency Care)
  • Associate Professor Steve McGloughlin (Expertise in Critical care)
  • Professor Brett Mitchell (Expertise in IPC)
  • Professor Malcolm Sim AM (Expertise in Occupational and Environmental Medicine)
  • Dr Andrew Stewardson (Expertise in Infectious Diseases and IPC)
  • Mr Barry Tam (Expertise in Clinical Engineering)
  • To be announced (Experience in providing COVID-19 nursing care)