Nurses union takes industrial action against Queensland Health over COVID-19 protection – ABC News


Queensland’s Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) is taking industrial action against Queensland Health over concerns nurses are being put at risk of COVID-19 because of personal protective equipment failings.

The matter has been listed at the Industrial Court of Queensland for this afternoon.

In a statement, the union said there was still no assurances from public health officials that proper fit-testing and checking of respiratory protection equipment is being effectively carried out across the state’s public health system.

“The health and safety of our members and the wider community remains our top priority,” QNMU secretary Beth Mohle said.

“Health workers must be provided with appropriate PPE, which is checked and fitted with a proper seal, but we still don’t have assurances that this is consistently being done across the state’s public health system.

Ms Mohle said QNMU wanted Queensland Health to provide an audit of the numbers of workers being fit-tested, the type of fit-testing undertaken and who is undertaking the fit testing.

“So far, the response from Queensland Health has been inadequate. It’s a public health issue, which continues to put frontline nurses and the people they treat each and every day, at real risk of COVID-19.”

Brisbane’s recent outbreak, where three nurses and a doctor were infected at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, only further increased the union’s concerns.

The cluster sent the region into a snap three-day lockdown, with further restrictions only set to ease in Queensland tomorrow.

Queensland Health has been contacted for comment.

A nurse prepares for surgery wearing blue scrubs and a surgical mask and pulling on a pair of gloves in an operating theatre.
The union says it’s had no assurances from public health officials that proper fit-testing of PPE is taking place.(

Rawpixel: Chanikarn Thongsupa


Ms Mohle said the two parties met this morning but there was still a long way to go, which is why the union escalated the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission.

“We’ve only got some information today in regards to that request for an urgent audit, we’ve only got some information today in relation to that audit and that information does demonstrate that it’s inconsistent across the state.”

The state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young recently mandated that all health staff caring for COVID patients need to be vaccinated.

“We’re saying it’s not only the vaccinations that is required … they also need to have access to PPE and be fit-tested for that equipment and checked every time they take it off,” Ms Mohle said.

The QNMU said it did a survey yesterday of members in one hospital and health service and found only 40 per cent of staff who identify as working in a high-risk area indicating they had been appropriately fit-tested and checked.

“We’ve got 16 hospital and health services and there’s no a consistency of approach, and there’s not sufficient power within the system to hold them to account when they’re not doing the right thing,” she said.

“We’re very worried about the fact that PPE may not fit women’s faces, so as you can appreciate, 90 per cent of our members are women. That’s a problem.”



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