ANMF (SA Branch) calling on urgent action in response to COVID crisis in SA health system 

  

22 July 2022

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb at alarming levels, the ANMF (SA Branch) is urgently calling on the Health Department to free up capacity within the system.

The health system has already been under enormous strain and is in danger of collapsing altogether as the latest wave of the pandemic is yet to reach its peak.

On Friday we saw a pandemic record of 358 people in hospital with COVID (breaking Thursday’s record of 354 people). 

Modelling is predicting SA will hit 6000 cases daily within a week (7,000 daily cases according to an ABC report), and the number of hospitalisations exceeding 400. 

It was reported that metropolitan hospitals now have more patients than beds, with 123 people waiting in emergency departments for a bed on Friday morning. 

ANMF (SA Branch) Director, Operations and Strategy Rob Bonner said metropolitan hospitals were in a “dire” situation.

“Beds are fully occupied and emergency departments are remaining at overcapacity largely as a result of people waiting for transfer into inpatient units,” Mr Bonner said.

“This level of demand and the shortage of both staff in beds is unsustainable and places both staff and patients at risk.”

The ANMF (SA Branch) has called for the urgent reimposition of limits on elective surgery in private hospitals.

“A moderate limit in the rate of non-urgent overnight stay related cases would create the capacity for transfer of public patients to private hospitals with staff available to provide that care,” Mr Bonner said.

“These extraordinary times call for such action, either by the private sector volunteering to participate in such a scheme or through consideration of a reimposition of emergency declarations.

“Have no doubt, the current stress on our public hospitals and other health care services is no less at risk than when earlier declarations were imposed.”

The ANMF (SA Branch) has been  in contact with Department of Health  executives calling for an immediate “consideration and response”.

We are also trying to relieve pressure on the system by supporting the  reintroduction of  work-from-home options for health workers.

“The Federal Government and health advisers have urged employers to reintroduce WFH as a strategy in the current wave of the pandemic,” Mr Bonner said.

“We believe that such arrangements should be made available to Department for Health and Wellbeing and Local Health Network staff for whom they are practicable.”