Winter is already here by the way the weather has been lately.

As the cold begins to set in, we know there are going to be more people presenting to their health service with colds and flus. We also know that there are increasing numbers of people contracting COVID-19.

Since the last STAT Report there has been a significant increase in COVID cases with 9,316 total cases for the past week; that’s a huge spike of 24% since last week’s numbers were published.

Increasing COVID cases means Health Workers are at greater risk than most people in Victoria of contracting COVID through the course of your work. It also means that your Health Service has an obligation to ensure you have a healthy and safe workplace.

That’s why we have been adamant since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that Health Services must provide the necessary safety equipment, and training, like fitted masks.

They are also obliged to make sure you know the processes to safely work around patients who may have COVID, or have been exposed to people who have COVID, to make sure you are not bringing it back to your home or sharing it with friends and loved ones.

Coupled with the increase in COVID cases, is the likely spike in flu cases being reported as people begin visiting their Health Services. We have learned over the course of the pandemic that winter typically see surges in flu and COVID cases, leading to additional strain on the health system, and adding to your already significant workloads.

As the cases go up and workloads increase, more and more members will be feeling burnt out. Working under these conditions puts an incredible strain on your physical and mental health.

It is disappointing, to say the least, that while pleas from a growing number of people to employ more people are getting louder, they seem to be falling on deaf ears in our Health Services.

If your Health Service offers you the opportunity to get the latest flu vaccine, we strongly recommend you take up their offer. We also strongly encourage members to get their latest COVID-19 vaccine booster if eligible.

Keeping yourself safe this winter is good for you, your family and the people you care for.

To better ensure you are safe at work, Health Unions in Victoria have developed guidelines for Health Workers to manage the COVID risk. There is a guide you can download here

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