NSW Health System Understaffed and Unprotected


The rising number of Covid-19 cases in health care workers in NSW is a result the Berejiklian Government’s preference for building shiny new hospitals over ensuring there are enough adequately trained nurses and other frontline healthcare workers, says Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and Health spokesperson and member of the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Provision of Health Services in Regional, Rural and Remote NSW.

On 16 August 2021 Ms Faehrmann wrote to the Health Minister with several demands. 

“NSW Health has had eighteen months since the start of the pandemic, and actually long before then, to ensure the state’s health system and frontline healthcare workers could be adequately protected from Covid,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“Since the start of the pandemic, doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers have been raising the alarm that they did not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as correctly fitted N95 face masks. I am hearing from frontline workers that this is still the case today.

“The Government talks up the billions of dollars it has spent building new hospitals, but the state’s nurses and paramedics remain poorly paid and grossly overworked. Meanwhile there is still a significant number of nurses who are unvaccinated putting themselves, their colleagues and their patients at risk.

“Yesterday, I wrote to the NSW Health Minister, calling on him to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for all healthcare workers defined as high risk Category A workers. These workers are already required to be fully immunised against other deadly transmissible diseases including Hepatitis B, mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox and the flu.

“Minister Hazzard must work with unions and the federal government to ensure that workers are able to access paid leave to receive the vaccination and take time off over the following days as necessary, as well as to ensure all workers are fit-tested with N95 masks.

“I am also aware of an open letter signed by more than 400 healthcare workers and experts across the country, sent to all political leaders this week, calling for greater measures to tackle indoor aerosol transmission of the virus, including the wearing of airborne respiratory protective gear by all healthcare and quarantine workers.

“Clearly the government isn’t doing enough and can do more. Our state’s health system was already at breaking point before Covid-19 hit, particularly in regional, rural and remote NSW. It is of enormous concern that the Aboriginal community in the state’s north west are now grappling with the outbreak,” said Ms Faehrmann.