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Source: Etu Union

A union for care and support health workers says it is essential that workers’ voices are included in any changes to PPE provision during major health events in future.

On Wednesday, the Auditor General released an overview looking at the management of PPE in New Zealand during COVID-19.

E tū represents 15,000 workers in the health sector, including more than 10,000 in care and support roles such as home support, disability support and residential aged care.

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says workers knew early on there was a major systems failure in access to PPE.

“The experience of E tū members and other frontline healthcare workers varied massively, as outlined in an E tū survey of workers in April and this caused unnecessary stress and concern. Some workers waited weeks for access to PPE.”

Kirsty says workers shouldn’t have had to speak out so strongly in order for the Ministry to revise their initial advice on PPE usage.

“The current contracting system and multiple, layered split of services and tendering processes across DHBs was a major barrier to workers and clients accessing PPE. On top of this, the profit motive, particularly in the residential aged care sector, didn’t help.

“PPE for health care workers needed a much greater level of coordination and better central distribution by the Ministry of Health. However, as the Auditor General comments, the ‘size, scale, and speed of the pandemic required the Ministry to play a strong and decisive leadership role in a largely devolved sector’,” Kirsty says.

“Recommendation three of the report – reviewing how PPE clinical guidelines will be prepared or amended and consistently communicated during emergencies – is absolutely critical to us.

“Workers’ voices needed to have been included from the start in this and we will make sure that any changes following this report are co-designed by workers themselves.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully, 027 204 6354

MIL OSI