Last night, multiple stations in Western Sydney were closed for cleaning due to an incident of a COVID positive patient attending Mt Druitt ED on the weekend. Several crews who attended the ED have been identified as close contacts and are required to isolate for 14 days.
At this stage of the pandemic, ADHSU members expect both Health and Ambulance to have clear procedures to follow when incidents like this occur. Unfortunately, what ensued was a lot of confusion for members as inconsistent advice and information was given.
Members had received conflicting advice on whether they needed to isolate; if accommodation was available for those not wishing to isolate at home with vulnerable family members why they were not told of the incident immediately (instead, finding out days later that they were at risk), among other things.
ADHSU members held a meeting today to discuss the events that unfolded last night and to raise their concerns about what seems to have been a massive breakdown in communication between Health and Ambulance, and Ambulance and its crews. When it comes to safety, these communication breakdowns can have very serious consequences as well as placing extreme stress on members and their families. Workers have a right to know what is going on in matters regarding our health and safety.
At the meeting, members endorsed a resolution to demand a full investigation into how NSW Ambulance attempted to resolve this issue and why staff were not immediately informed of the safety risks. This includes isolation procedures and who is required to isolate (including why affected staff were not notified in a timely manner), clear details of the incident including why crews were not informed of why they were evacuating Mt Druitt ED, and what ongoing risks to staff and patient safety are currently present. Members expect full details of the above to be distributed to staff as a matter of urgency.
We will update members as more information becomes available.
In the meantime, any affected members wishing to isolate in paid accommodation have the right to do so. Information from the Ministry of Health is as follows:
“Staff requiring temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic should contact their health agency to arrange a booking using the local arrangements and contacts provided.
Health agencies will then initiate accommodation bookings using FCM Travel Solutions (FCM), the existing supplier of travel management services to the whole of NSW Government.
Should emergency accommodation be required then health agencies can independently make their own arrangements.”
Meals are provided and current accommodations provided are in hotels or motels usually close to the employee’s place of employment.
Affected employees are entitled to access special leave provisions for the term of their isolation. If at any point an employee becomes ill, they are required to access sick leave. Should an employee test positive to COVID-19 from workplace exposure, they will have access to workers compensation.