Strict protocols are needed to ensure Tasmanian nurses travelling to Victoria to aid the state’s COVID-19 response don’t bring the virus back with them, Labor says.
It’s expected only a small number of nurses will head interstate to offer their assistance.
The Tasmanian Health Service sent an email to the state’s executive nursing directors on Thursday, requesting that registered or enrolled nurses able to travel to Victoria be identified.
In other news:
It follows an urgent request from the Commonwealth, as Victoria continues to grapple with a disastrous resurgence of coronavirus cases, which has led to a curfew being implemented and, effectively, a shutdown of the economy.
THS employees are already offering help to Victoria remotely, aiding in contact tracing efforts and providing public health advice.
Labor health spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said the state government needed to receive assurances from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews that Tasmanian nurses would be given sufficient personal protective equipment and training so that they would be able to “deliver support safely”.
“Tasmanian nurses who have the expertise to help in Victoria, and are in a position to travel to that state, will want to do what they can as part of the national effort to manage the pandemic,” she said.
“The Tasmanian government must … ensure there are watertight protocols in place for the return of those nurses to Tasmania.
“The last thing we want is for a gesture of goodwill to be the thing that imports COVID-19 to Tasmania.”
Health Minister Sarah Courtney said she was confident nurses would commit to offering their services through the expressions of interest process because they were “very generous and would like to be able to go and help their peers”.
“We know that Victoria is in a very vulnerable position at the moment,” she said. “And so we’re exploring ways that we can further support them in this really challenging time.”
“I really want to see how we can support Victoria as much as possible but we also need to be cognisant that we need to maintain capacity and capability here in Tasmania in what is still a very vulnerable time.
“We want to make sure that if Tasmanians do get deployed to Victoria that they are kept safe and well while they are there, but also when we have any workers returning to Tasmania from Victoria we’ve got very strict protocols.”
Returning nurses would go into quarantine upon reentry into the state, just as other people entering Tasmania from Victoria are required to do.
Ms Courtney said she expected the Tasmanian government would pay for the quarantining of nurses returning to the state.
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: