Thousands of nurses on health’s frontline are being put at risk every minute of every day as they care for Australians during the COVID-19 crisis due to the Government’s failure to provide them with access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
“PPE for health care workers is vital as we fight to overcome this health emergency,” Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN explained. “Yet nurses who do not work directly for a public hospital or general practice are being discriminated against when it comes to the roll-out of available stocks.
“The Australian Government has provided PPE to our Primary Health Care Networks for distribution around the country, but they are only allowed to provide this equipment to general practices. This completely ignores the thousands of nurses who provide care in the community outside a general practice and makes them exceptionally vulnerable to exposure and in turn exposing some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
In Australia nurses work in every health care setting. In terms of delivery of primary care, this can include community-controlled health services, community clinics, in-home care, alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services, and mental health services.
“With Australians being asked to stay at home and avoid going to hospitals if possible, we need these dedicated nurses more than ever. It is appalling that they have been overlooked when it comes to provision of PPE,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “Nurses have shared stories of having to try and purchase their own PPE or simply going without and hoping for the best. Some clinics have told me they will run out of PPE in the next 24 hours or so.
“Now more than ever, we need our nurses to be healthy and able to provide care. To deny them access to PPE is not only short-sighted in terms of workforce capacity but could cause a spike in infections that could have been avoided.
“When a nurse sees a patient, it is not possible for them to stay two metres apart. This means if a nurse without adequate PPE cares for a patient who later turns out to be a COVID carrier or have another infectious disease, they could potentially infect many others.”
ACN is calling for PPE supplies managed by Governments to be made available to all nurses working in primary care.
Thank you for the validation of my concerns of practicing without adequate PPE as a Primary Health Nurse (preferred title Community Health Nurse) in NSW Health. I have raised my concerns with senior management where my concerns are meant with the same answer……following policy from clinical excellence committee masks are not required…..despite my concern we cannot practice social distancing with any of our interventions needed for a home visit.
I am very concerned at the risk I place to my family (partner and 3 children) who are practicing self isolation when I return home. My children are not attending school. The Federal Government propaganda would have the public believe school is not closing so essential workers can continue to send their children to school while they work. Firstly I question if Community Health is considered “essential “ as the lack of regard for our safety with inadequate PPE. Secondly, why would healthcare workers especially in Community Health not having permission to use adequate PPE, send their children to school to potentially cause increased community transmission of Covid 19 to students and educators/teachers??? I believe the only reason the government will not close schools is a financial decision as all government employees cannot access the Covid 19 extra leave allocated if schools are officially closed.
I would like the Australian College of Nursing to front the media with these policies and fallout issues , as we are increasingly being denied access from clients who are declining home visits because they feel unsafe we are not wearing masks as mandatory PPE. I have had a palliative care client and family requesting nil home visits despite requiring needing line changes and medications…… family taking over same and learning from YouTube!
Hi and thank you for your comments.
I would be happy to discuss your concerns more fully with you directly and would invite you to get in touch with me via email at email@example.com. I am the Executive Director for the Professional Division and concerns from nurses across any clinical setting are important to ACN. ACN has been vocal in the media with both media releases and press interviews being held with ACN’s Chief Executive Officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN. ACN will continue to advocate on important issues for the nursing profession. I look forward to hearing from you.