Clashes over rest home testing, flu vaccinations at Epidemic Response hearing

Source: 1News

Front line health workers are clashing with the Prime Minister over funding, rest home testing and flu jabs, the latter being labelled a total disaster as the country continues its fight against Covid-19.

Jacinda Ardern announced flu vaccinations would start earlier because “we wanted to be prepared”.

However, there had been delays in the roll out.

NZ Medical Association chair Kate Baddock raised her concerns at today’s Epidemic Response Committee hearing.

“We in our practice could not get vaccines for 10 days and we have over 4000 patients who needed vaccination,” she said.

“I don’t want to see what happened with flu to be happening when we get the Covid-19 vaccine.”

However, when asked Ms Ardern denied this was the case.

“The point that I’m making here is that the flu vaccination programme started earlier,” she said.

GPs had been expecting a $22 million dollar cash boost. However, it had not happened. Job losses may result.

Ms Baddock said GPs were “very much hand-to-mouth” with cash flow and the lack of it reduced their ability to stay afloat.

Ms Ardern said: “We've worked very hard to recognise the costs that frontline practices have occurred through Covid-19 but at the same time also recognise they will have had a drop in revenue and many businesses have experienced that too.”

Ms Ardern said the Government had already provided $45 million in funding for GPs as well as the wage subsidy scheme.

There have also been calls for all residents and staff to be tested when entering rest homes. This comes as another death of a woman in her 80s from Rosewood rest home was announced today.

Aged Care New Zealand Association CEO Simon Wallace told the committee today regarding testing that they "absolutely think that is the right thing to do for what is the most vulnerable and older population.”

The Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said aged care workers were one of the groups identified for surveillance testing in a message sent out to DHBs yesterday.

At least two inquiries are underway into aged care providers’ response to Covid-19.

However, Mr Wallace said its timing and nature was putting pressure on these services.

The disability sector also told the committee today access to personal protective gear had been a debacle.

Disability Support Network chief executive Garth Bennie said there had been delays in communication and decision-making.