Thousands of health workers unavailable, hospitalisations rise

By Jackson Graham

Wednesday January 12, 2022

James Merlino
Victorian deputy premier James Merlino. (AAP Image/James Ross)

Thousands of health workers are unavailable to work in Victoria as Omicron puts the system under “extreme strain”, the state’s deputy premier says. 

The state government revealed on Wednesday it will put a further 1000 additional vaccination workers in its state-run clinics to ramp up coronavirus booster dose delivery. 

The workers will be limited to only basic vaccination activity and could include first-year healthcare students and retired nurses. They come as staff shortages stifle the health system as well as other critical industries. 

Victoria deputy premier James Merlino said more than 6600 health workers were unavailable to work in the state on Wednesday. 

“It’s a race for people to get vaccinated while we try and support the health system during a period while it’s under extreme strain,” Merlino said. 

Ambulance Victoria issued a “code red” for the second time in seven days on late Monday night. The alert lasted until the early hours of Tuesday. 

Victoria recorded 946 patients with coronavirus on Wednesday, 85 more than recorded on Tuesday, while NSW had 2,242 people in hospital – up 56 on the day prior. 

NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce said the state’s health system would continue to be under pressure “for at least the next few weeks”. 

“At every hospital we are trying new things and new ways of looking at how we can help our staff combat the pressure they are under at the moment,” Pearce said. 

“I know that at [Royal Prince Alfred Hospital] the executive staff are looking at how they can assist the staff; including for example going onto the wards to relieve them for meal breaks. 

“So that’s managers coming out from behind their desks and going to work on the wards, which I think is a really positive signal to our staff.” 

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