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Source: Public Service Association (PSA)

The Public Service Association supports the decision to independently review PPE distribution and supply, but the union says health workers are sick and tired of empty promises.

“We have repeatedly been promised PPE. Our members have repeatedly been told the DHBs and the Ministry of Health will keep them safe. These promises have repeatedly been broken,” says Melissa Woolley, Assistant National Secretary of the PSA.

“At least 128 health workers have been infected with Covid-19 so far, and we know for a fact that thousands of our members are working without reliable access to PPE. These tend to be workers in predominantly female industries, undervalued and underpaid for decades, and they have once again been forgotten about when it counts.”

The PSA has been unable to get clear answers from senior DHB and MoH officials about why PPE distributions has been so unreliable and uneven.

In the home care sector, the union and employers have jointly attempted to secure PPE supplies for support workers and other front line staff.

These attempts have repeatedly been either diverted or stymied, with different DHB officials providing different and unclear answers about the source of the problem.

“The supply is there. The Prime Minister, the Director-General, the Minister of Health and others have all confirmed this. But because our country lacks an efficient and united health system, and instead has a set of fragmented feuding fiefdoms, the supply is not getting through,” says Ms Woolley.

“We do not accept that the life of a home support worker or a hospital administrator is worth less than the life of any other New Zealander. We want answers, we want those responsible for these failures to be identified, and we want clear and immediate solutions.”

Until PSA members around New Zealand are wearing the PPE they need, the union says it will reserve judgement about the independent review’s efficacy.