Call For Official Reporting Of Covid Infection Among Health Care Staff
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists is calling for the numbers of medical professionals who contract Covid-19 through clinical work to be formally collected and included in official updates.
Many countries in Europe and Asia have been officially reporting the impact of Covid-19 on their health workforces. Figures out of Spain’s health ministry last week showed that out of the 40,000 Covid-19 cases, nearly 5,400 or 14% have been among health care staff. The death rate among doctors and nurses is also being recorded.
According to a Stuff report this week, quoting the Ministry of Health, 51 medical staff in New Zealand have caught Covid-19 – about a third had recently been overseas. The number who have contracted it through clinical work is not clear.
ASMS believes the tracking and recording of those cases would provide critical information in the response to the Covid-19 outbreak, along with any future pandemics.
“Having an official subset of data around infection figures for our medical staff would be useful at both a national, DHB and community level,” says ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton.
“We know that health care workers are at greater risk. We are relying on them and it’s essential for them not only to be safe, but to feel safe. It would be beneficial to be able answer questions around when, where and how transmission occurs in different health settings, and whether there are any gaps in protection”.
Overseas experience has also shown that in areas of major outbreak, details on frontline infection rates have helped officials with workforce planning and response.
New Zealand has Covid-19 case breakdowns and analysis on a range of criteria, but it does not include health care workers.
Sarah Dalton says tracking how many health care workers get Covid-19 is critical as they are both in high demand and at risk of high infection.
“When doctors and nurses fall sick, the stress on the healthcare system will increase”.
“As a result, we would like the Ministry of Health to start collecting infection data and reporting it as part of the daily national updates and for DHBs to keep a breakdown of staff groups which are affected,” she says.