Calling for a safer working environment for all health care workers

The MDA National Mutual Board has written an open letter to the Federal Government, State Governments and Hospital Employers in support of all health care workers.
We have submitted this letter to all the relevant bodies, in addition to promoting in various medical publications and social media channels.

An Open Letter to the Federal Government, State Governments and Hospital Employers

MDA National is an Australia-wide Medical Defence Organisation. For over 90 years, we have been there to support members when they need us and promote high quality medical practice throughout Australia.

We are alarmed at the number of cases of COVID-19 in healthcare workers (HCW) which now account for almost 15% of all infections in Victoria. The majority of these infections have occurred at the workplace. 

In order to provide a safe working environment, we are calling on the Federal Government, State Governments and Hospital Employers to ensure that the following are in place: 

  • All HCWs should have access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This should be chosen by the best available evidence and using the precautionary principle.
  • All HCWs should have education in how to correctly put on and remove PPE and this must include fit-testing of P2/N95 respirators to ensure they are appropriate to the worker.
  • Healthcare environments should follow the Safe Work Australia hierarchy of control measures to implement all reasonably practicable risk control solutions. They should at the least promote physical distancing, environment zoning, hand hygiene facilities and safe breakroom facilities.
  • HCWs should not have to prove that COVID-19 was contracted at the workplace to be protected under WorkCover legislation. If they are providing care as independent contractors (and therefore not protected by WorkCover), they should be safeguarded in a similar way.
  • GPs and Private Practice must not be forgotten. The Federal Government has advised that they should source their own PPE. During a pandemic, this is simply not appropriate. 
  • Ongoing investment in innovative models of service delivery, for example the ongoing provision of telehealth for all Australians.

We would like to thank all healthcare workers for their dedication and effort over the last 6 months and into the future. They all deserve a safe working environment where they can provide care to all Australians without fear of infecting themselves, their families, their colleagues, their patients or their communities.

 

Dr Rod Moore
President, MDA National

 

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