Message from the Secretary of DPC Tim Reardon


Update to the NSW Public Sector on COVID-19 - Health

15 April 2020


This week I want to highlight the exceptional work of NSW Health to ready us for what will be a very demanding winter ahead. To talk about those who are dealing with a health task at a scale few of us could comprehend.

Since January, Health has been gearing up its preparedness in response to COVID-19.

This started with public health messaging early on to alert us of the seriousness of the virus, at a time when we had very little impact and very few cases detected in NSW and across Australia.

That messaging and the ratcheting up of restrictions in what we can and cannot do in our daily lives has been led by our NSW Health Public Health team, working with the broader NSW Health and also their counterparts from every other State and Territory, and the Commonwealth.

The scale of their work is immense, and undertaken at rapid pace. They are the teams who have been undertaking testing people for the virus and then also tracing any close or casual contacts with other people.

The level of testing for COVID-19 in Australia has been at a very high rate for the size of our population compared to most other countries around the world. And by some distance, the highest rate of that very testing in Australia has been in NSW. It reflects a dedication and vigilance to identify, test, and trace to slow the spread of the virus. While early days, that aim is steadily being achieved over the last few weeks.

As of Easter Monday, over 140,000 people in NSW have been tested for COVID-19 and excluded, meaning the virus was not detected. That testing however, has seen over 2,800 people test positive, and each is being closely monitored at home or cared for in hospital. In all, we have to date had a very low level of positive tests. This reflects the strength of the public health approach.

Within the hospital system itself, NSW Health has also been gearing up significantly to provide acute health care to the expected numbers of people who may need that care over coming months.

A central focus has been to increase Intensive Care Unit bed numbers. The increase being put in place is at a significant scale compared to the usual numbers. It has involved finding new capacity in both public and private hospitals.

Significant investments from the NSW and Commonwealth Governments are providing for everything, from contracting with private hospitals to play a pivotal role, procurement of significantly increased numbers of essential hospital and personal protective equipment, working with GPs to play their role in providing healthcare to less acute patients, and bringing in many more health professionals into the hospital system to directly care for people who have caught the virus.

The crisis is also driving innovation. Much more healthcare-in-the-home is now required, manual processes are being digitised like GP prescriptions directly linked to pharmacies, drive through testing clinics, and caring for the Health workforce with practical steps such as accommodation and free parking so they can focus on what they do best - caring for the NSW community.

To date there are a relatively small number of people with the virus in those ICU beds, and each is receiving the care they need from thorough professionals. Tragically, we have seen people pass away from the virus - our sincere condolences to each and every family.

No doubt we will need to steel ourselves for the period ahead and show our absolute support to our Health colleagues, both professionally and emotionally.

To all of you, nurses, support staff, paramedics, cleaners, doctors, students, volunteers and everyone who supports patient care. We are here to play our role to support you through this in any way we can.

Then there are the other frontline workers who may not be specifically working on COVID-19, but their day job places them at higher risk regardless. Our paramedics, our GPs, our mental health practitioners, and community care workers. We acknowledge your dedication and professionalism during a pandemic at a scale which none of us has experienced.

To the many researchers who are developing and testing vaccines to ultimately stamp out the virus, you are doing work that NSW, Australia, and the world will remember forever.

So there you have it, our Health crew is readying themselves and us to the absolute best of their capability.

And finally, a simple ask from the rest of us:

When you see or hear of one of our Health team out doing their job, regardless of the setting, whether you know them or not, tell them what a brilliant job they are doing. They are mums, dads, sisters, brothers, like the rest of us, with the same personal pressures and stresses. Yet they are also showing up to deal with this crisis. So a simple act of kindness from us each day is the least we can do.

Tim



Update to the NSW Public Sector on COVID-19 - Health

15 April 2020


This week I want to highlight the exceptional work of NSW Health to ready us for what will be a very demanding winter ahead. To talk about those who are dealing with a health task at a scale few of us could comprehend.

Since January, Health has been gearing up its preparedness in response to COVID-19.

This started with public health messaging early on to alert us of the seriousness of the virus, at a time when we had very little impact and very few cases detected in NSW and across Australia.

That messaging and the ratcheting up of restrictions in what we can and cannot do in our daily lives has been led by our NSW Health Public Health team, working with the broader NSW Health and also their counterparts from every other State and Territory, and the Commonwealth.

The scale of their work is immense, and undertaken at rapid pace. They are the teams who have been undertaking testing people for the virus and then also tracing any close or casual contacts with other people.

The level of testing for COVID-19 in Australia has been at a very high rate for the size of our population compared to most other countries around the world. And by some distance, the highest rate of that very testing in Australia has been in NSW. It reflects a dedication and vigilance to identify, test, and trace to slow the spread of the virus. While early days, that aim is steadily being achieved over the last few weeks.

As of Easter Monday, over 140,000 people in NSW have been tested for COVID-19 and excluded, meaning the virus was not detected. That testing however, has seen over 2,800 people test positive, and each is being closely monitored at home or cared for in hospital. In all, we have to date had a very low level of positive tests. This reflects the strength of the public health approach.

Within the hospital system itself, NSW Health has also been gearing up significantly to provide acute health care to the expected numbers of people who may need that care over coming months.

A central focus has been to increase Intensive Care Unit bed numbers. The increase being put in place is at a significant scale compared to the usual numbers. It has involved finding new capacity in both public and private hospitals.

Significant investments from the NSW and Commonwealth Governments are providing for everything, from contracting with private hospitals to play a pivotal role, procurement of significantly increased numbers of essential hospital and personal protective equipment, working with GPs to play their role in providing healthcare to less acute patients, and bringing in many more health professionals into the hospital system to directly care for people who have caught the virus.

The crisis is also driving innovation. Much more healthcare-in-the-home is now required, manual processes are being digitised like GP prescriptions directly linked to pharmacies, drive through testing clinics, and caring for the Health workforce with practical steps such as accommodation and free parking so they can focus on what they do best - caring for the NSW community.

To date there are a relatively small number of people with the virus in those ICU beds, and each is receiving the care they need from thorough professionals. Tragically, we have seen people pass away from the virus - our sincere condolences to each and every family.

No doubt we will need to steel ourselves for the period ahead and show our absolute support to our Health colleagues, both professionally and emotionally.

To all of you, nurses, support staff, paramedics, cleaners, doctors, students, volunteers and everyone who supports patient care. We are here to play our role to support you through this in any way we can.

Then there are the other frontline workers who may not be specifically working on COVID-19, but their day job places them at higher risk regardless. Our paramedics, our GPs, our mental health practitioners, and community care workers. We acknowledge your dedication and professionalism during a pandemic at a scale which none of us has experienced.

To the many researchers who are developing and testing vaccines to ultimately stamp out the virus, you are doing work that NSW, Australia, and the world will remember forever.

So there you have it, our Health crew is readying themselves and us to the absolute best of their capability.

And finally, a simple ask from the rest of us:

When you see or hear of one of our Health team out doing their job, regardless of the setting, whether you know them or not, tell them what a brilliant job they are doing. They are mums, dads, sisters, brothers, like the rest of us, with the same personal pressures and stresses. Yet they are also showing up to deal with this crisis. So a simple act of kindness from us each day is the least we can do.

Tim