Beds and medical services cut as Queensland hospital workers challenge COVID-19 vaccination mandate

More than 8% of Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) employees failed to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination mandate, forcing cuts in surgical, medical and mental health beds.

Queensland Health data obtained by the ABC shows that of the 4,620 employees who work for the department – which runs hospitals in Rockhampton, Gladstone, Biloela and Emerald – 385 workers have provided no evidence of having two vaccines. COVID-19 and are not on leave.

About 136 of them have requested a waiver of the mandate, but Queensland Health chief executive John Wakefield has made it clear that anyone who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to work in a facility. public health.

An email from Kerrie-Anne Frakes, executive director of the CQHHS Rockhampton business unit to staff, said the mandate would have a “temporary operational impact to ensure that we are able to safely maintain inpatient services.” .

“There has been a lot of work done by our team leaders, managers and directors over the past week to ensure safe service continuity,” the email reads.

Ms Frakes said the service would be temporarily needed to reduce some surgical, medical and mental health beds and balance “a slight reduction in staff in emergency departments and maternity hospitals.”

“We do not believe, however, that these changes will have an impact on the level of care to be provided to our community or on the safety of our staff,” she said.

Suspended from full pay

Of the 108,000 hospital and health workers in Queensland, 3,830 – or 3.54% – have not provided any proof of a COVID-19 vaccination and are not on leave.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said this week that around 4,000 health workers in Queensland who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 would receive show cause notices and be suspended at full pay.

The state is currently served by 16 hospital and health services, independent statutory bodies responsible for providing public health services in their region.

South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS) – which includes hospitals in Roma, St George, Cunnamulla and Charleville – has the highest percentage of non-compliant employees, with 10.78 percent of the workforce, or 110 employees, out of a total of 1,020.

Other hospital and health departments with high rates of unvaccinated workers against COVID-19 include Central West (6.2%), Sunshine Coast (5.33%), Mackay (5.07%), Wide Bay ( 4.42%) and Gold Coast (4.07 percent).

In terms of numbers, 561 employees of the Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS) – which includes Royal Brisbane and Women’s, The Prince Charles, Redcliffe, Caboolture and Kilcoy hospitals – did not comply with the health directive, which equates to 2.45 percent of the workforce.

The proportion of Metro South Hospital and Health Service employees who did not comply is slightly higher, at 2.56 percent (459 workers).

On the Gold Coast, 488 workers have provided no proof of COVID-19 vaccination and are not currently on leave.

Health vaccination mandate

Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken said Queensland Health was in the process of contacting unvaccinated health workers.

“All of these staff are being contacted and some of them are in the exemption process and are being processed,” he said.

“If they haven’t been contacted directly, your best bet is to speak directly to supervisors.”

He said workers who have filed exemption requests and who have not yet been contacted will receive their full pay for that week.

“After that, the process will continue and it will be based on an individual basis, depending on their circumstances,” Dr Aitken said.

But, he warned, this arrangement was for only a week.

“It’s only for a week, so I encourage them to follow up,” said Dr Aitken.

Total employees

Unvaccinated staff not on leave

Percentage of staff

Queensland Total Health

114,069

4 226

All hospital and health services (HHS)

108,122

3,830

3.54%

Cairns and Hinterland HHS

7,142

219

3.06%

Central Queensland HHS

4,620

385

8.33%

Central West HHS

462

29

6.28%

Queensland Child Health

5,278

102

1.93%

Darling Downs HHS

6,586

222

3.37%

HHS Côte d’Or

11,984

488

4.07%

Mackay HHS

3 351

170

5.07%

North HHS metro

22,826

561

2.46%

South HHS metro

17 947

459

2.56%

HHS North West

884

35

3.96%

HHS South West

1,020

110

10.78%

Sunshine Coast HHS

8,702

464

5.33%

Torres and Cap HHS

1,255

47

3.74%

Townsville HHS

7,042

169

2.4%

West Moreton HHS

4,998

170

3.4%

Large Bay HHS

4,596

203

4.42%

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