'Disgrace': 200 hospital cleaners in Westmead Hospital PPE peril

The Daily Telegraph, 16 July 2021

More than 200 cleaners have refused to set foot inside a major Sydney hospital’s Covid-19 ward claiming they were denied access to protective equipment.

Cleaners at Westmead Hospital claimed they were refused proper PPE including booties and hairnets and facing lengthy delays in getting properly fitted masks.

The cleaners also say they were told they cannot shower at the hospital before going home and are concerned about taking the virus home to their loved ones.

The Health Services Union last night raised the matter in front of the Industrial Relations Commission.

HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the failure to protect frontline workers was a “disgrace”.

“We are in the middle of an unprecedented outbreak in NSW, the absolute bare minimum we can expect is that our frontline workers are protected,” Mr Hayes said.

“Cleaners are just as important to our health system as doctors and nurses and should be treated with the respect they deserve.

“The Ministry of Health needs to get its act together and urgently fix this problem.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard told The Daily Telegraph he has spoken to senior management at the hospital and the Health Ministry urging them to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

“NSW health cleaning staff have done an incredible job in this most difficult period of the pandemic.

“My understanding has always been that they have been given the maximum amount of personal protective equipment and I’m disappointed that there appears to be some differing views on what is occurring at Westmead,” he said.

“I’ve expressed to the senior management and the Ministry of Health rat I’d like the matter resolved as soon as possible.”