Why Sydney Healthcare Workers Are Saying They’re In Crisis

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Sydney healthcare workers are reporting that the healthcare system of the NSW capital is in crisis as it tries to cope with rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.

Last week, Sydney health professionals spoke anonymously to The Guardian about their concerns, particularly as restrictions in NSW are set to ease in the coming weeks.

One healthcare worker explained that new wards were needing to be opened to admit positive COVID-19 or close contact patients, but that they felt there are currently inadequate staff to care for them.

Another described how exhausting they find working in full PPE, and that burnout is evident among staff.

A clinician told The Guardian that patients who need hospital treatment for critical conditions like cancer aren’t being seen to pre-emptively free up hospital capacity for COVID-19 admissions.

And that they thought patient care is being rushed or compromised to avoid healthcare workers ending up in the media again.

How Bad Is The ‘Crisis’ Right Now?

The latest figures from NSW Health show that there are currently 1,146 COVID-19 cases in hospitals around NSW, and 222 of those people are in intensive care with 117 requiring ventilation.

There have already been huge calls for retired doctors, nurses, psychologists, and pharmacists to consider returning to the workforce to assist frontline workers.

And the pandemic has caused massive disruptions to the training of students, which puts future healthcare workers at risk of not being as work-ready as they could be.

What’s alarming a lot of people even more is that NSW is reportedly just weeks from a huge surge of COVID patients in hospitals.

The NSW roadmap out of lockdown has been informed by COVID modelling, and one of those models predicts that in early November intensive care admissions will peak.

What we don’t know right now is how the looming “Freedom Day” will affect that peak, and what it might do to the healthcare crisis.

“Freedom Day”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced October 11th as the day restrictions are set to ease, which is when 70% of the state will be fully-vaccinated.

She wants people to see the date not as a “Freedom Day”, but instead as a sustained reopening to getting back to normal.

Healthcare workers told The Guardian that they are worried that the public will see this as the date the pandemic is over.

But that in reality, the healthcare system in NSW is likely to be overwhelmed with COVID-19 for months, with the overwhelming majority of those critically unwell in ICU unvaccinated.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

Some clinicians think the healthcare system is coping.

To them, hospitals are still working collaboratively and well together, especially considering the stage of the pandemic we are in.

They are still encouraging the public to keep attending any appointments they need, because they think the healthcare system will always be ready to accept patients.

Some workers have ultimately pleaded that their workforce not be forgotten moving out of lockdown.

They pointed out that health services will need improved funding for years to come, but also to catch up on the care so many have failed to access during the pandemic.