COVID unit cleaning ban at Westmead Hospital after workers’ lives put at risk

Health Services Union

Cleaners at Westmead Hospital are refusing to enter the hospital’s COVID unit after they were denied access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

The frontline workers, who have put their lives on the line to keep patients, doctors and nurses safe, have been told by NSW Health they will not be given PPE including booties and hairnets.

Workers are also facing lengthy delays to get properly fitted masks with uncertainty about when they will be provided.

They have also been told they cannot shower at the hospital before going home, heightening their risk of contracting and spreading COVID to their loved ones and the broader community.

The Health Services Union has resorted to the work bans after repeated attempts to raise the alarm with hospital management were rebuffed.

Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said it’s disgraceful the hospital and NSW Health are refusing to protect workers.

“Our members are asking for basic health and safety provisions. The fact their requests have been denied is incomprehensible,” Mr Hayes said.

“As has been highlighted by this pandemic, cleaning and sanitising spaces is essential. This could not be more important than in a COVID unit where patients are being treated.

“We are in the middle of an unprecedented outbreak in NSW, the absolute bare minimum we can expect is that our frontline workers are protected.

“Cleaners are just as important to our health system as doctors and nurses and should be treated with the respect they deserve.

“The Ministry of Health needs to get its act together and urgently fix this problem.”

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