Metric loss

Doctors warn NSW Premier that ICU Covid patient count is not just metric in fight against Omicron | Health

Health workers have warned that intensive care numbers aren’t the only measure NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet should consider as he resists mask warrants, with senior clinicians warning staff are exhausted and even quits his job completely as he faces a third year of Covid.

Respiratory physician and President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) Professor John Wilson has called on state and territory governments to reintroduce or maintain mandatory mask wear, QR code registrations and restrictions on the number of people in indoor public places where The Covid is spread.

The call came as NSW reported a record 3,057 cases on Tuesday.

Perrottet on Monday rejected calls for more government-imposed health restrictions and said it was time for “personal responsibility”. He described intensive care presentations as “the key measure for the state” to watch out for in relation to Covid-19, and said the numbers were low. There are 39 people with Covid-19 in intensive care in NSW.

But Wilson said the healthcare system includes more than critical care, and healthcare workers across the system are on leave due to being sick or exposed to Covid-19, or quitting their jobs due to of exhaustion.

“The phenomenon of job abandonment is real,” Wilson said. “Health care is an area where people have been asked to go the extra mile time and time again, and have been faced with a situation where they have families they have not seen, where their own health. is at risk, where industry incentives have not matched clinical demand, it is no surprise that some are leaving.

“Of course, a natural attrition of the workforce will also occur, but there are factors like Covid-19 and the lack of response that are actually accelerating this decision-making, and I think we are seeing part of it. right now.”

Guardian Australia has asked NSW Health about the number of health workers on leave, but has not yet received a response.

Wilson said the RACP wants governments to listen first and foremost to their public health chiefs.

“If left unchecked, an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on our health systems already exhausted due to an overwhelming increase in hospitalizations,” Wilson said. “Relaxing restrictions in some jurisdictions, especially those associated with wearing masks, QR code check-ins and large gatherings, can have dire consequences.”

The RACP has joined its concerns and call for restrictions from the Australian Medical Association and leaders of Australia’s leading infectious disease research institutes. Later Tuesday, WADA President Dr Omar Khorshid will hold a press conference in which he is expected to urge the National Cabinet to institute a national plan to tackle Omicron, citing the concerns of infectious disease doctors .

He called Perrottet “reckless”.

“Do-it-yourself contact tracing, watered-down registration requirements, dropping mask warrants and removing density limits together are a recipe for disaster and when hospital admissions and intensive care cases exceed the benchmark for which he works. – it will be too late.

But the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, echoed Perrottet’s remarks by declaring on Tuesday that “we must move from a culture of mandates to a culture of responsibilities”. “This is how we live with this virus in the future,” he said.

The comments alarmed some NSW health workers, who say the whole system is stretched.

A clinician at an NSW hospital said the public health department where she works is treating significantly more Covid-19 cases in people from vulnerable backgrounds than at Delta peak earlier in the year.

“Care of the elderly and the disabled predominates, both in residential and community settings,” she said.

“There are cases of Covid among staff, caregivers and customers. Few people still seem really sick and most are vaccinated, but it is still early days. It becomes very difficult to get staff to provide ongoing personal care to cases and close contacts. They need PPE training and often key personnel are required to isolate themselves as close contacts of customer or staff cases. “

Public health and people with disabilities workforces were also losing staff, she said.

“It’s a precarious workforce with often no rights, so there isn’t a lot of loyalty to employers,” she said. “I think most of those who work during an outbreak do so for clients, to whom many of these low-paid caregivers are incredibly loyal. But the transfer to hospital of elderly or disabled people requiring important care is becoming more and more difficult.

“Hospital transfers and healthcare hotels have been our safety net to stop transmission and provide care to vulnerable people. I can see those options running out as Christmas approaches. “

Managing outbreaks is labor-intensive, she said, requiring coordination between public health, clinicians, hospital officials, the private provider and the health ministry.

“Everyone’s stretched out,” she said. “Everyone is faced with the dilemma of how to do less safely and with compassion. People, especially those in the care of the elderly and the disabled, have borne a disproportionate burden of loss of quality of life during Covid. It is particularly infuriating to me that they are once again the losers, in the name of “freedoms” for the general population which surely could have been granted more slowly and more conscientiously.

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An NSW area health worker said it wasn’t just Sydney that was affected. She said her hospital was experiencing “serious staffing issues throughout the hospital, from the emergency department to intensive care to the maternity ward.”

“We are not dealing with day-to-day operations, let alone a Covid epidemic,” she said.

“In January, we expect an additional 15,000 people will come to our area for a county-wide music festival. Was there any planning, funding, or just something from the state government? There was none.

Staff are tired of having filled multiple roles over the past two years during the pandemic, she said.

“My comment to the Prime Minister is that we don’t have the resources to deal with this, nor the planning and leadership we need to run this ship. Is there a national leader who understands what is going on, who can bring this nation together and move us all together in one direction instead of individual states? “.

Do you know more? melissa.davey@theguardian.com