Government’s flu announcement doesn’t deliver

The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria has serious concerns about the flu program announced by the Andrews Government in October to combat the flu and its potential to harm patients in our hospitals.

While the Union applauded the introduction of the program to improve patient safety, there are some serious problems with the implementation of the program. While the government has purchased new testing machines, the Andrews Government continues to fail to listen to scientists and to their concerns that there are not enough scientists available to operate the testing machines. And this is on top of already huge workloads and staff shortages.

Instead of doing what it takes to make sure this program would be successful, we had hasty announcements without planning or resourcing. This program should have been successful if more funding was made available to hire additional scientists to do this critical pathology testing work. The program was never going to work if there

Instead, the program of flu testing was introduced without any consideration given to resources needed to run it nor current the workload crisis many scientists are experiencing just to undertake the ordinary work required in hospitals. The evidence from recent studies into unsustainable workloads in pathology services was once again ignored.

The reality is the Health Minister’s flu program failed in many laboratories. Instead of addressing the workload and staffing issues raised by the MSAV some pathology services chose to ignore the program and leave testing equipment lying around unused because there are not enough scientists to undertake the testing.

This failure is a crystal-clear illustration of how health executives will compromise government initiatives in relation to broad community health care rather than respond to the understaffing and workload crisis.

What is also worrying about this case is that health services quietly abandoned the Minister’s fan-fared initiative without informing her or the DHHS.

Until the Minister stops ignoring the real shortages in medical scientists, any announcement she makes risk being hollow promises. Right now, no Victorian suffering the flu is guaranteed to receive the improved treatment promised because the Minister won’t address the shortage in medical scientists.

The Union calls on the Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, to make sure health services employ enough additional medical scientists to ensure this worthwhile project can be a success.

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