Qld doctors demand COVID-19 surge plans

Marty Silk |

Queensland doctors working on the front line of the state’s COVID-19 outbreak say they’re in the dark about government plans to protect them during the upcoming peak.

Another nine virus deaths were recorded on Thursday, taking Queensland’s pandemic death toll to 72.

The number of active COVID-19 cases rose to 91,306 with 850 people being treated in hospital and 48 in ICU.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard expects hospitalisations to peak in the “low thousands” in coming weeks, but a union representing doctors in public hospitals say they haven’t seen any COVID-safe workforce plans yet.

The Queensland branch of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation says the state’s Industrial Relations Commission has ordered the government to share data on how many doctors have had P95 masks fit-tested, its plans for staff testing and for managing health workers during the surge.

But AMSOFQ president Dr Hau Tan says doctors are being kept in the dark about the government’s plans to protect them.

“Queensland Health had not complied with another QIRC recommendation to provide …the COVID-19 workforce surge plans or COVID-19 safe workplace plans for all Hospital and Health Services ,” he said in a statement.

“We also demanded that Queensland Health provide easily accessible and up-to-date information regarding COVID testing for staff …across the state”.

“Public hospital doctors have gone above and beyond for the past two years, and are already pushed to the limit”.

“As doctors put themselves in harm’s way to care for patients during this current Omicron wave, we need to see more from Queensland Health to protect their health and safety.”

The Omicron wave is also hitting Queensland’s social service sector with the industry’s peak body saying the government is making charities wait until March for help sourcing PPE and rapid antigen tests for frontline workers.

Queensland Council of Social Service chief executive Aimee McVeigh has written to both the premier and ministers requesting intervention with domestic violence, homelessness, drug and alcohol and emergency support services currently forking out themselves.

“Our workers are on the front line, delivering essential services without the protection they need,” McVeigh said in a statement.

“These charities are already responding to much greater demand for their services and now their low cash reserves are being spent on sourcing masks, gowns and rapid antigen tests.

“Not only are services responding to Queensland’s COVID crisis, but in some cases, are also responding to the needs of their communities in the wake of major flooding and cyclones.”

QCOSS has asked the Queensland government to follow Tasmania’s example and establish grants for charities and social sector groups to help pay for PPE and tests.