Shadow Minister for Health, Bill Yan, says Territorians have completely lost faith in the Gunner Government’s ability to manage the current COVID outbreak while the Territory faces a widespread health crisis perpetuated by this incompetent Chief Minister and his Labor colleagues which is not only unacceptable – but avoidable.
“The Gunner Government has crippled the Territory’s health system and today’s announcement by the Chief Minister to introduce urgent and extreme lockout measures is an admission Labor has failed to ensure our health system and hospitals can manage a COVID outbreak.
“Health Minister, Natasha Fyles, has shown a serious lack of knowledge and judgement with her comments that a spike in COVID cases, including hospitalisations, has had “no impact on staffing” within the NT health system – and is misleading Territorians.
“How does the Minister have any idea about the impact on staffing, when she’s admitted it’s ‘too hard’ to work out how many doctors and nurses she needs to recruit to plug the critical staff shortages across the NT.
“These remarks have gone down like a lead balloon with nurses and doctors who know the real story – they are at the coalface, unlike the Minister: health workers are being forced into overtime and double shifts every day, many have gone without a break since this time last year, wards have shut, four Code Yellows critical bed and staff shortages have been declared at RDH, there has been widespread elective surgery cancellations and the system is in danger of collapse.
“This puts our health workers under crushing pressure, coupled with burnout and extreme fatigue, which means it’s more likely mistakes could be made. Mistakes that could put Territorians’ lives at risk.
“What exactly is the plan to deal with the extra healthcare burden, Minister? For months now, we have been calling on the government to take immediate action. Our burnt out healthcare workers can’t keep working with no light at the end of the tunnel, and right now they’re in the dark.
“The Gunner Labor Government has had two years to plan for the Territory’s COVID response, yet our health system remains at breaking point and the remote vaccine rollout has been completely bungled which has left Territorians living in the bush exposed.
“The Opposition is also deeply concerned that very few Rapid Antigen Tests are available in the community, outside of the formal system, and the kilometre-long wait for testing at the new East Arm facility is proof the system is under extreme pressure. The Chief Health Officer revealed that there are likely to be more cases that have not been identified, which is a worry considering the long wait for a test.
“The Health Minister needs to reveal what will happen if we run out of tests, or can’t test all symptomatic people and close contacts. Will the Gunner Government enforce even tighter restrictions and what will they be?” said Mr Yan.