Unsafe volunteer workforce implemented without consultation

The HSU has been made aware of an agreement made between Sydney Local Health District, South Western Sydney Local Health district and St John Ambulance for volunteers to provide assistance in transporting COVID affected patients at Concord, Campbelltown and Liverpool Hospitals.

Not only was this arrangement entered into without consultation with HSU members, but it also seems the HSU was deliberately excluded from meetings to discuss the proposal.

It appears the District has engaged a number of volunteers to transport patients, but has supplied no information about what training they possess or what infection control protocols they will observe. In addition, the HSU has viewed an email which suggests cleaning staff from Concord Hospital will be directed to clean St John vehicles.

The HSU holds numerous safety concerns about this decision. By ignoring their obligations to consult with your Union, the LHD may be placing members and the community at greater risk of infection.

While we are aware of the enormous workload pressures that HSU members are currently experiencing, this is reflective of the lack of planning and resourcing within our health system. Patching together potentially unsafe stopgap measures is not the answer.

This is a safety issue. Volunteer first-aiders perform important work in other contexts, and they deserve recognition for what they do. But dropping them into a complex work environment in the middle of a pandemic, without sufficient training and without consulting the people who actually do the job, is a recipe for disaster. It’s unfair on the volunteers, and it’s disrespectful to HSU members working hard to keep the community safe.

We want to hear from you. What are your concerns? What kind of workload issues are you experiencing, and how do you think they should be resolved? Email [E-Mail not displayed] with subject line St John Ambulance Contracting.

If you know someone who is affected by this decision, but isn’t a union member, invite them to join the HSU today. With strength in numbers, we can make sure our voices are heard. New members can join at www.hsu.asn.au/join or call 1300 478 679.