10 Sep 2021
Today’s news that the Queensland and New South Wales Governments have agreed to reinstate the border bubble is a great relief to the medical workforce and patients in border communities.
AMA Queensland President Professor Chris Perry said he was pleased to see this announcement after weeks of advocacy for all medical support workers to be reclassified as essential workers so they could cross the Queensland-New South Wales border.
“When the Queensland Government tightened its essential worker definition for the medical workforce to just those regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), doctors and nurses could still cross the border but orderlies, cleaners, caterers and administrative staff were shut out.
“This created chaos in hospitals and health care services in the Coolangatta-Tweed Heads region such as COVID vaccination clinics trying to operate without receptionists and other admin staff to take bookings, check patients in and keep the clinics running.
“All workers at hospitals, GP clinics, and other specialist private practices are essential. The cleaners are just as important as the clinicians.
“We heard stories about surgeons having to wheel patients into operating theatres, about nurses having to sterilise equipment, about physios having to strip beds and GPs left with no staff to answer the phones.
“We wrote to the Queensland Government several times asking for urgent action to allow all health care and medical support workers to be able to move between the Gold Coast University Hospital, Tweed Heads Hospital and the other health care facilities.”
Professor Perry said that while this Queensland-New South Wales border announcement was a step in the right direction, he remained concerned for all border communities.
"We hope NSW will corral the infected zones for the next couple of months to give New South Wales and Queensland residents not currently vaccinated time to get vaccinated,” Prof Perry said.
“Border communities are still doing it tough, particularly those whose closest health care is just over the border. While we all want to keep COVID at bay, common sense has to come into play and a line on a map should not prevent someone getting health care.”
Published: 10 Sep 2021