Willing Tasmanian nurses will be deployed to Victoria to support aged care facilities impacted by COVID-19 as a matter of urgency.
The Department of Health has released an expression of interest for nurses within the Tasmanian Health Service who might able to assist.
In an email distributed to all executive directors of nursing within the THS on Thursday, staff were asked to identify registered or enrolled nurses with the capacity to travel to Victoria within a 24 to 48 hour period.
It comes in response to an urgent request for assistance from the Commonwealth, with 450 new case of coronavirus confirmed in Victoria on Friday and 11 deaths, as well as 911 active cases among health workers.
According to the THS email, all associated costs would be covered by the Commonwealth.
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While the mandatory 14-day quarantine period would apply to all staff on their return to Tasmania, nurses would receive their full salary while stood down.
Nurses with experience working in acute medical and emergency settings were preferred and they couldn’t be considered vulnerable to COVID-19.
A THS spokesperson said the EOI came on top of support already being provided for Victoria, with staff assisting with case management and contact tracing from within Tasmania.
“The Tasmanian Department of Health remains mindful of ensuring local services are maintained, and will continue to consider any further support we may be able to provide,” the spokesperson said.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd said while the health and wellbeing of nurses should always be prioritised, it was clear Victoria needed all the help it could get.
“They [Victoria] are in dire straits. Given the experience we have had in Tassie, they [nurses] will be wanting to do whatever they can to help their colleagues in Victoria,” she said.
“I just think while we can we should support Victoria and help them get on top of it. Reducing COVID back to a more manageable level is in all our interests.”
After a national cabinet meeting on Friday, Premier Peter Gutwein stressed the seriousness of the situation.
“They [Victoria] have a challenge in front of them. More than 7500 active cases … a significant number of those are attached, unfortunately, to aged care facilities and settings,” he said.
“I’m sure all Tasmania’s thoughts are with Victoria at the moment, as they work their way through what is a very challenging and difficult situation.”
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