A group of 200 cleaners at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital are refusing to enter the hospital’s COVID ward because they say they have been denied access to vital personal protective equipment.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was “some difference of opinion” between the hospital and the union on the matter “but I’ve indicated to the team last night that I’d like us to be as generous as reasonable and understanding of our health workers and are on the side of being supportive”.
Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said the workers were told by NSW Health they would not be given appropriate PPE, including booties and hairnets and there were delays getting properly fitted masks.
The workers were also told they can’t shower at the hospital before going home, heightening their risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 to their loved ones and the broader community.
“Our members are asking for basic health and safety provisions. The fact their requests have been denied is incomprehensible,” Mr Hayes said.
Three paramedics in southwest Sydney have now also tested positive for the virus, forcing at least 70 paramedics identified as close contacts into isolation, Mr Hayes said.
The union was meeting with the NSW Ambulance over the issue to ensure appropriate precautions were being taken.
A pregnant patient and a doctor at Liverpool Hospital, in Sydney’s southwest, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and a vaccinated nurse who worked at Westmead Hospital in a COVID-19 ward has also tested positive.