Nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Queensland remain potentially exposed to the deadly virus due to poorly fitting PPE, an audit has confirmed.
The government has announced that all health care workers working with COVID-19 positive patients must be fully vaccinated by May 10th.
Nine new cases have now been discovered in Queensland, all of which were acquired overseas. Seven of these cases were on board a ship off the Sunshine Coast that had traveled from Vanuatu.
Queensland Health yesterday conducted an audit that was submitted to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. It identified inconsistencies and shortcomings in the implementation of protocols and practices for PSA fit testing in Queensland hospitals.
The investigation was triggered by a case brought to the state’s industrial arbitrator earlier this month by the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union.
Several nurses followed who contracted the virus at PA Hospital, resulting in Brisbane’s lockdown.
QNMU Secretary Beth Mohle said the data clearly showed what the union had long feared: « There are major inconsistencies here with PSA-Fit testing programs in our public health system. »
« Now that the issues are identified, we would like to focus on resolving the issues by working with QH to ensure that nurses working with COVID-19 positive patients and others suspected of having the virus are safe who are safe and healthy, « Ms. Mohle said.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath announced the new vaccination policy yesterday morning, saying « the majority » of hospitals did the right thing.
« A health policy is being released and HHS has already been notified. By May 10, all staff working with COVID patients must be fully vaccinated, » she said.
« So you don’t just have to get your first vaccine, you have to get both vaccinations – that is, fully vaccinated.
« They all need to be fit tested and checked for fit at the start of each shift. They have to be monitored daily.
“So we want to make sure they have the confidence that they are as safe as possible when working with these COVID patients and we want to keep them safe too.
During yesterday’s shear, the QIRC commissioner recommended that the hospital and health services, which were classified as the highest priority category, draw up action plans for the PSA Fit Test regime by May 4th and submit them to the QNMU for feedback and Discussion should be presented.
« We welcome the opportunity to work with all of HHS to develop action plans to keep employees and Queenslanders safe, » said Ms. Mohle.
« This is a particularly risky time now, more than 12 months after the pandemic started. So many are exhausted and continue to deal with insecurity and heavy workloads. This is a time when mistakes can be made so we must all look to them focus on implementing suitable strategies to reduce this high risk. »
« There must also be accountability and transparency in HHS plans so that we can be confident that we are protecting the nurses and our communities. »
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