The COVID-19 vaccine rollout been less of a smooth roll and more like a beginner learning how to drive manual, but we remain committed to tackling each new hurdle.
No one said that the vaccine rollout would be easy, but does it have to be this hard?
We might be top of the charts for containing the spread of the virus, but we barely make the Hot 100 list in the world for the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered for every hundred residents.
It’s not through lack of effort. GPs across the country have put up their hands up to be involved, reorganised their clinics, made alternative staffing and rostering arrangements and generally tried to be supportive of the process with all its plot twists and turns.
And for all the miscalculations and mistakes that might have been made so far, to a certain degree some challenges have been beyond Government control – EU restrictions on trade have limited supply and “securing the Pfizer vaccine” has not guaranteed it would make it to our shores in a timely fashion.
The latest announcement from ATAGI regarding AstraZeneca’s rare but serious thrombosis with thrombocytopenia complication has thrown yet another curveball, and increased vaccine hesitancy.
Through all of this AMA has tried to remain supportive – calling for calm, reason, transparency and clear communication.
As President, I’ve been speaking to the media almost daily about the COVID vaccine rollout and meeting with health stakeholders, including NSW Health on a weekly basis to discuss developing issues.
At the forefront of my mind is our members, and our patients.
We have pushed for healthcare workers to be a priority in this rollout. Since the beginning of this pandemic, healthcare workers have been on the frontline of this crisis, risking your lives, sacrificing time spent with family and loved ones to protect them from infection, and doing your best to continue to provide care to patients.
Healthcare workers continue to be most at risk of infection – therefore they should be the highest priority for vaccination. AMA successfully advocated for the State Government to open its hubs to Phase 1b healthcare workers to ensure access to members.
Whilst the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has dominated the first half of 2021, we have continued working on other strategic priorities.
The parliamentary inquiry into rural, regional and remote healthcare held its first hearings in March, which AMA (NSW) was privileged to attend. We prepared our written submission to the inquiry with the essential input of our members who have experience working in these areas.
The hearing was an opportunity to discuss the challenges that exist for non-metropolitan areas, but also the good news stories and solutions that could be developed to improve services.
The hearing preceded my tour of South Coast NSW, where I had the pleasure of visiting health facilities and doctors in Bega, Moruya and Batemans Bay. The trip provided insight into the needs of the local population and the necessity of health service improvement.
We look forward to working with our members, Government and other stakeholders to develop these initiatives and improve healthcare for all residents of NSW.
AMA (NSW) is also in development of two pivotal surveys which will serve as a backbone for future advocacy.
We will be releasing our survey for senior doctors to measure engagement with their hospitals later this month. This will be followed by our annual Hospital Health Check for doctors-in-training.
Both surveys are important tools in measuring aspects such as wellbeing, burnout, engagement, overtime, and more.
Thank you to the AMA members who have supported our organisation through the last 12 tumultuous months, and to those non-members, we hope you will consider joining us – we are stronger together.