HSUWA calls for resources to protect health workers

Friday 06 Mar 2020

The Health Services Union of WA calls for:

  • Clear protocols, and that health workers are equipped to safely test
  • and care for patients diagnosed with coronavirus;
  • a coronavirus public information campaign; and
  • more staff and resources to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.


The Health Services Union of WA (HSUWA) is calling on the Department of Health to ensure the safety of frontline health workers responding to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Western Australia.


HSUWA Secretary Naomi McCrae said healthcare workers were at the forefront of testing and caring for those who have the virus.


“We need to make sure health workers have appropriate facilities and enough resources to be able to treat the public safely while ensuring their own health and safety,” Ms McCrae said.


“Our members are trained to deal with infectious diseases and have the professionalism, capability and skills to manage a coronavirus outbreak, however photos released recently of public hospitals using carparks as makeshift quarantine zones are concerning for both the safety of health workers and public welfare.


“HSUWA members, including frontline administrative staff as well as the phlebotomists who are responsible for testing patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms, are incredibly brave and professional people who will do everything they can to care for sick West Australians.


“These health workers are asking for clearer procedures to be put in place, appropriate protective equipment made available, and dedicated clinics introduced to deal with patients presenting to hospitals and other testing facilities.


“The State Government and the Department of Health are putting plans in place but it’s imperative the public understands what it can do if people plan on getting tested. 


“We believe the department needs to provide temporary specimen collection facilities that are separated from the facilities used by other patients and staff, at all sites to which suspected coronavirus patients are directed.


“This is particularly important for those in our smaller hospitals and regional centres where systems and facilities may be more limited,” Ms McCrae said.


The HSUWA is also supportive of a public education campaign to inform West Australians on how to best seek advice, assistance and treatment when presenting with coronavirus symptoms.


“Minimising infection has to be a priority. To protect health workers and to help stem the spread of the virus in Western Australia, a well-resourced education campaign could reduce misinformation and help the public understand the proper procedures to follow for hygiene, testing and treatment. 


“Additional resources should be released to help deal with the potential crisis, the government should consider in its planning mobilising more health workers temporarily, for example, by offering hours to part-time employees.


“This would allow the health system to keep up with the extra demands of the virus and to ensure there is enough staff as a backup measure for workers who may get sick,” she said.

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