It is important that you are provided with a safe workplace and the correct PPE.
After the infection of 4,000 health care workers in Victoria, the PPE guidelines were changed to mandate that P2 and N95 be required for healthcare workers. Currently, this is not the case in QLD and it is time that nurse safety is taken seriously and the guidelines are updated to reflect this.
The graphic below explains the difference in masks.
The surgical masks, quite simply provide inadequate protection. We have written to the Health Minister with the following questions:
- What is the current supply of P2/N95 masks and are there enough for nurses to safely perform their jobs?
- Will the Government commit to upgrading the required mask for health care workers to a minimum standard of the P2/N95 masks?
- Will the Government employ nurses in the first instance to perform the immunisation of the public rather than pharmacists?
- Considering that a vaccination is anticipated to be available in Q1 this year, why hasn’t the Government prepared nurses for the mass immunisation program by getting nurses to undertake an immunisation course that allows them to immunise people independently of an order from a Dr?
- As of the date of this letter, are you able to confirm that there are currently five people in hospital with the more virulent form of UK COVID?
- Have the staff who are looking after these patients been provided with the correct PPE?
We intend to hold the Government to account when it comes to ensuring the safety of nurses in the workplace. The government has a duty of care to provide you with a safe workplace and you should consider your own health and safety before caring for COVID patients.
You have the right to raise safety concerns with management, if your workplace is not providing you with a safe workplace and you have insufficient PPE, you have the right to withdraw yourself from the workplace if the response of your manager is unsatisfactory. If you are concerned about having the correct PPE in your workplace please call our hotline on 1300 263 374.
Lastly, you can be directed by your employer to take leave if you are currently awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
If you are a Queensland Health worker with no leave accrued, you can apply for paid discretionary special leave. This issued by the health chief executive or their delegate on merit, it is not a guaranteed entitlement - if you require assistance with applying for this, please call our support team on 1300 263 374 or fill in a member support form on your dashboard (https://www.npaq.com.au/dashboard).
Other private health facilities and agencies also have policies in place when taking leave during coronavirus. Please consult your line manager to discuss what is available in the event you require time off due to COVID testing, illness or quarantine.