ASMS

Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

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Urgent need to plug information gaps on clinical Covid infections

29 May 2020 ASMS Media Release

The lack of detail on the transmission of Covid-19 in clinical environments will send shudders through the health workforce, says the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists.

A report in the New Zealand Herald, based on Ministry of Health figures, shows of 183, or 12 per cent, of all 1504 confirmed and probable cases were among health workers.  While many were imported or linked to overseas travel, there are a significant number of cases in which the Ministry can’t say how the infection occurred.

“That sort of drilled-down clinical information is crucial in keeping all our health workers safe and in terms of future pandemic planning,” says ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton.

“Were there problems with PPE, hand hygiene practises, a failure to observe safe distancing from colleagues, or issues with internal workforce contact tracing?

“It’s about not only being safe but feeling safe and having confidence in the clinical practices and processes in your workplace,” she says.

In early April ASMS asked the Ministry to publicly provide regular updates of the numbers of medical professionals contracting Covid-19, along with information on whether infection occurred through clinical work.

Sarah Dalton says for a short time the Ministry responded by reporting health worker case numbers and profession breakdowns.

“That was encouraging but we have been disappointed that it has not continued in a public way,” she says.

The World Health Organisation has highlighted the importance of the systematic collection of health worker infection data but has said that its 194 member states have not been providing comprehensive figures.