Thousands of Queensland’s frontline health workers could be provided free accommodation if they want to self-isolate.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the $17.5 million plan would help health workers protect their families if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.
“This is a back-up plan only, one we hope we never have to use,” The Premier said.
“If COVID-19 cases rise significantly in Queensland we need to consider how we can not only protect our clinicians on the frontline, but also their families.
“If needed, my government will pay for health workers who are at the highest risk of COVID-19 to self-isolate in hotels or apartments.
“This is about providing support to our health heroes on the frontline.”
“This would allow health workers who provide care direct to infected patients to keep their families or housemates safe, without the financial burden of paying for alternative accommodation.”
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said Queensland Health had been investigating the option as part of their contingency planning.
“We’re talking about the doctors, nurses and support staff who provide care direct to infected patients, be it in intensive care units or dedicated COVID-19 wards,” Mr Miles said.
“The overwhelming number of our staff are in no greater risk of catching coronavirus at work than they are in the general community.
“This would be entirely voluntary but would give these frontline heroes some extra comfort that they were reducing the risk to their families.”
Details of the plan include:
- $17.5 million over six months to cover accommodation,
- Open to staff working in Intensive Care Units and dedicated COVID-19 wards,
- Money provided to HHS to ensure staff could be accommodated as close to home as possible,
- The program would be reassessed in six months.
Mr Miles said the plan and would be worth every cent to protect the families of Queensland’s health heroes.
“The money will be provided to Hospital and Health Services so they can find suitable accommodation close to where their health workers live,” he said.
“Most of Queensland’s hotels are suffering very low occupancy rates so there is plenty of room. This investment would be also an enormous help to local economies.
“This is a crisis that requires us to be innovative in our use of resources and creative in our approach to solving problems.”
Mr Miles said he was confident Queenslanders would continue to comply with health directives such as social distancing and home confinement and avoid the need for such a plan.
“Today Queensland recorded 14 new COVID-19 cases, taking the state’s tally to 921,” he said.
“That’s a promising change from last week, when we were recording between 50 and 70 cases a day.
“But while our numbers are heading in the right direction, COVID-19 remains a serious threat and we need to continue planning for worst-case scenarios to protect all Queenslanders.”