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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

COVID testing delays leads to frontline frustration

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Lawyer Bruce Simmonds says first line health defenders fear they will become punching bags as nervous people queue for hours in sweltering heat at COVID testing centres.

‘Three new Covid testing clinics have been opened on the Gold Coast after more locals waited for hours to be swabbed. Staff numbers will also be boosted and opening hours expanded across the state to meet the demand as Queenslanders respond to calls for wider testing.

But Mr Simmonds says front line health workers are worried that the public’s patience may boil over into violence if they are forced to stand in line for five hours or more for a test.

Hospital workers voice fears about growing violence

‘This comes as hospital workers in Queensland voice fears about growing violence from aggressive patients. Health workers are especially fearful of people with psychiatric conditions will lead to our first line defenders and other patients being at unnecessary risk,’ he said

‘Media reports state more than 13,000 Queenslanders were tested for COVID-19 on Monday, the highest number of tests since the state last saw the virus circulating in the community.

‘This follows a weekend call from Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young, who ordered anyone who had been in Victoria since December 21 to get tested and isolate immediately.

‘The state recorded zero local cases and two in hotel quarantine on Tuesday amid 13,672 tests. It has been 112 days since a locally transmitted case of COVID-19 was last detected in Queensland.’

Statistics do not recognise enormous stress

Mr Simmonds says the statistics do not recognise the enormous stress on frontline health workers and hospital staff, struggling to cope with lengthy queues wanting a COVID test and unexpected surges in test numbers.

‘Staff also experience enormous frustration with the delays due to virus testing as well as pressure understanding and coping with those who vent about their ordeals. Add this to ongoing hospital violence threats and our Queensland health system is under siege.

‘Recent media reports have likened working in Queensland hospitals with combat zones abroad.

‘Hospital resources are stretched due to tight budgets imposed by bean counters and staff fear the drug/ violence attacks from patients. A patient told me it seems the hospital wardsmen are increasingly expected to double as security.

’It’s time for the State Government to increase funding for better hospital security.

‘Gold Coast University Hospital is one of the busiest hospitals in Queensland and they cope with addicts and meth heads all the time. Maybe our Health Minister should spend a weekend at the hospital emergency department and see the problems front line health workers encounter at first hand,’ said Mr Simmonds.

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