Vaccine fast-tracking needed for medical families and whānau
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora is calling for families and whānau of medical staff to be fast-tracked for Covid vaccination.
ASMS members and their families have expressed concern for some time that family members of frontline clinical staff have not been prioritised for vaccination in the same way border worker families have.
ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says the outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant means families will be feeling even more vulnerable.
The Ministry of Health has reported that approximately 120 staff at North Shore Hospital were in areas at the same time as a Covid patient, and 30 of those are believed to have had direct contact.
Sarah Dalton says while it can be assumed the workers themselves are fully vaccinated, they will be well aware they still have the potential to spread the virus and will be reluctant to go home and risk exposing their families and whānau.
“Hospital staff, not just those at North Shore, are now trying to juggle their living arrangements with their work. That can mean trying to isolate within their own homes or moving out and paying for alternative accommodation. In at least one case we’ve heard a doctor has moved on to a boat to keep their family safe”.
“With this outbreak spreading quickly, there are potentially thousands of families who could be forced to spend weeks apart. It’s a very stressful and disruptive time, especially for those who have unvaccinated family members,” she says.
ASMS is also concerned that having to take exposed health workers out of the system will put enormous pressure on services and remaining staff.
“Staffing levels, particularly in acute areas like emergency departments and ICU are critical on a good day, so losing staff in an environment where there are already big gaps has a big impact,” says Sarah Dalton.
“While we appreciate this is a rapidly changing and challenging picture, it is crucial that DHBs support the safety and wellbeing of their staff”.