ANMF concern at lack of transparency on COVID-dedicated hospital 

19 January 2022

The ANMF (SA Branch) has expressed concern at the lack of consultation and transparency over the State Government’s move to make the Angaston District Hospital a COVID-dedicated hospital.

The site will have up to 21 beds available for people from the Barossa and surrounding community who test positive to COVID-19 and require hospital-level inpatient-care for their mild symptoms. 

Medium and high-risk patients COVID positive patients will be transferred to a metropolitan COVID-19 receiving hospital.

SA Health is currently in the process of transferring existing patients out of the hospital, either discharging those ready to go home or transferring patients to other Barossa hospitals.

SA Health said all Angaston District Hospital staff have undertaken appropriate training and education to care for these patients.

The ANMF understands staff at Angaston only started having information filtered out to them about the COVID move last Wednesday, before official notification on Thursday. This prompted concerns as to where staff would be sourced from given the hospital is often short-staffed.

“I think it is entirely sensible to utilise the excellent country hospitals that we have in South Australia, and to do it in a way that is really trying to put in place measures so people know where they are to go,’’ ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM told ABC Radio.

“We are having increased numbers. We do need increased supports in those country areas in particular. And I think having it done in a way that’s known and people are aware of where they might end up is really important. 

“So for instance, they had some issues, for example, at Kingston, where they had to close their facility for a deep clean when they had COVID people arrive that they perhaps hadn't been expecting,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“And there has been a temporary closure at Barmera Hospital, we understand it's temporarily closed at the moment due to people being close contacts to people who are COVID-affected, and they've had to close because of staffing issues. 

“So the utilisation of a hospital in the Barossa area for that area and the surrounds, is a sensible approach. 

“What I think they really do need to do, and I do appreciate we are in a pandemic and there are issues of timeliness and all the rest of it, but it would be really sensible to bring in to the conversation and to be more transparent and clear with organisations such as ours, who are working with our members and trying to make sure that things are done sensibly and seamlessly. 

“And that at the moment, we don't believe we are getting that transparency. And that's one of the issues I will raise directly with the Premier. We have sought and achieved a meeting with the Premier about some of our concerns relating to this crisis in health care as we currently have.’’

“And some of those concerns do include transparency, or the lack thereof, and also staffing arrangements, and the fact that we do need to make sure that we look after our staff, make sure that they're on board as well,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“And do have the right equipment and the teaching and the education as well as adequate breaks amongst other things.

“We are receiving reports quite regularly from people in both metropolitan and, increasingly, country areas now that COVID is extending out there, saying that they simply haven't had adequate breaks. And sometimes they haven't even had the right equipment. 

“Sometimes people are being asked to re-use single-use face shields, for example. And these are the issues that we need to have addressed for the safety of our community and for the safety of our staff as well.’’
In Tuesday’s meeting with ANMF (SA Branch), the AEA and SASMOA, the Premier recognised the impact of the pandemic and the current outbreak on staff and agreed that this needed to be more effectively communicated and acted on.

He also agreed that regular (weekly) meetings should be held between the unions and the Minister for Health with transparent updates with directions and actions for identified problems. The Premier in addition has offered to participate in those meetings personally.