Australia Burnout fears as Qld health staff endure pressure ahead of Omicron peak

04:45  12 january  2022
04:45  12 january  2022 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Health workers are under increasing stress and face burnout amid fears the Queensland hospital system will be inadequately resourced to deal with the peak of Omicron, which is expected to hit in about a fortnight.

United Workers Union national ambulance co-ordinator Fiona Scalon said paramedics and other staff were as prepared as they could be for what was being described as a "rolling multi-casualty incident".

"The United Workers Union has welcomed the onboarding of new paramedics, who have been engaged to assist with the increased surge," she said. "However, we are concerned that the additional 108 workers announced a couple of weeks ago will barely make a dent.

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"Another major concern is the lack of trucks [ambulances] and equipment to put these new and redeployed staff in."

Ms Mohle called on Queensland Health to inform and empower local decision-makers in such a rapidly evolving situation to ensure the safety health workers.

"It will be tough and we are all anxious, but we must remain focused on getting through this together," she said.

"The federal and state governments must provide funding for the vital resources like staffing, PPE and testing required to keep health workers safe."

As other states struggle to respond to Omicron, Ms Scalon said Queensland's health system was not adequately resourced to deal with what was yet to come.

"We have been telling decision-makers for more than 18 months that the system cannot sustain this level of demand indefinitely with the current resources," she said. "The system was already struggling and will only be put under more strain.

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 with Omicron, fewer resuscitation patients, and less stays at Hospital if it is much more contagious than the delta variant, Omicron causes less symptoms of respiratory distress and therefore sends fewer patients in services critical care. © AFP.com/sebastien Bozon A patient with COVID-19 is elongated at the Hospital Pasteur in Colmar, in eastern France, April 22, 2021 the first estimates of OMICRON and intensive care passages seem to be confirmed with time.

"Ambulance workers should be commended for their ongoing efforts.

Video: Queensland COVID-19 cases continue to rise (9News.com.au)

"Our members, not just in Queensland but across Australia, have been working in surge conditions for the past 18 months or more, with no reprieve on the horizon."

On Tuesday, a man in his 70s died with COVID-19, while 20,566 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Queensland.

A total of 502 COVID patients were in Queensland hospital wards and a further 27 in intensive care, six of whom were requiring ventilation.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the number of patients getting admitted to the ward was beginning to escalate.

"So those numbers will become quite significant in the coming weeks until the beginning of February," Dr Gerrard said, while defending a plan to delay school to reduce pressure on hospitals.

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"Then, hopefully, if the mathematical modelling is correct, it will start to decline after that."

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said there were protocols in place to call in more essential workers.

Almost 3000 staff were on annual, long service or maternity leave, or waiting for vaccination exemptions.

"So we are calling back people on leave and we are bringing forward our critical essential workers who aren't close contacts," she said.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union secretary Beth Mohle said the pressure was exacerbated by workers being exposed to the virus and having to isolate.

"This pressure is causing health workers to experience moral distress. They are deeply concerned about their ability to deliver the highest quality of care," she said.

"In an emergency situation like this, we are forced to triage the most essential work."

Ms Mohle said nurses also struggled to access rapid antigen tests needed to clear them for work, knowing their absence would increase the workload for their colleagues and reduce nurse-to-patient ratios.

"Health workers are running on empty, experiencing physical and emotional exhaustion after almost two years of pandemic response," she said.

From nightmares to PTSD: Covid stokes UK health care staff crisis .
Long shifts working in intensive care and the risk of catching Covid and passing it on to his wife and children left Joan Pons Laplana exhausted. The pandemic has seen him on call, work night shifts and do more hours than ever before, he said. "Slowly and gradually you feel burnout, you start to work less effectively. You cannot go on at this elevated level of activity for so long, " he said.Public sector union Unison said more than two-thirds of medical staff have suffered burnout during the pandemic, and more than half worked beyond their contractual hours.

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This is interesting!