#211 Media and advocacy highlights

2 September 2020

During the past few weeks, AMA Victoria media and advocacy has included:

The Communications and Advocacy team works closely with the President of AMA Victoria to advocate for members, and wants to keep you informed. You can read more about this work in the links to the articles below. A summary is provided where a media paywall exists.

Issues with hotel quarantine

Healthcare worker infections

AMA Victoria board member, Dr Sarah Whitelaw, spoke to The Courier newspaper in Ballarat about the need for communication and transparency from the State Government and health services about health worker infections. 

Public Accounts and Estimates Submission

AMA Victoria President, A/Prof Julian Rait, spoke to the Australian Financial Review about a lack of central oversight or planning in Victoria to coordinate and integrate the different arms of public health, primary care and public hospitals. Additionally, he said there is no strong interface with the beleaguered aged-care sector – a situation only exacerbated further by the arbitrary division of responsibilities that has occurred between State and Federal Governments.

Advocating for fit-testing to be rolled out across Victoria

A/Prof Rait told The Age fit-testing is a significant part of healthcare worker safety but is not being very commonly done at all. "Fit-testing should be required for all healthcare workers exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 patients,” he said. 

The AMA and other key medical groups said a trial program at the Northern Hospital must be immediately rolled out across the entire Victorian healthcare sector to stop frontline workers from being infected.

These groups demanded that fit-testing of face masks become mandatory for health workers after a State Government analysis showed up to 80 per cent of the almost 2,700 Victorian healthcare staff who tested positive for COVID-19 caught the illness at work.

Encouraging the community to access healthcare       

With the number of patients presenting to Victorian medical clinics plummeting and the number of referrals to cancer clinics plunging, A/Prof Julian Rait spoke to the Herald Sun about the importance of continuing to seek medical care during the pandemic.

“There is no doubt we are going to see a high number of non-COVID-19 related illnesses due to widespread avoidance of medical care,” he said. “For some people, the consequences of this inaction could be life-threatening, with serious medical conditions going undetected,” he said. 

Outbreak at Frankston Hospital

A/Prof Rait said the high number of infected staff at Frankston Hospital pointed to a troubling systemic failure. He said he had been told at least 30 nurses were infected along with young doctors-in-training and a small number of senior doctors.

Call for transparency around contact tracing

AMA Victoria calls for greater disclosure on Victoria's contact tracing efforts. 

Calls for coronavirus to be deemed a workplace injury for health workers

Pressure is growing on the State Government to declare coronavirus a workplace injury for employees across all frontline industries who contract the deadly disease at work.

A/Prof Rait told The Age that he had brought up the issue with the State Government on various occasions over a number of weeks and had failed to get an adequate response.

Electronic COVID-19 notification system

A/Prof Rait welcomed a new electronic COVID-19 notification system. He told The Age the AMA had been calling for this for months with many members frustrated by long delays on the phone. A/Prof Rait said electronic notification was crucial to efficient contact tracing in a pandemic.

Please contact Taryn Sheehy, Director of Communication and Advocacy at TarynS@amavic.com.au for further information, to provide feedback or to raise any advocacy issues. 


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