26 September 2023

Hospitals to be rearranged as pandemic eases

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The Department of Health has announced that all public hospitals are to move to a new phase of COVID-19 response following a fall in the number of cases.

The Department said the move would free up front-line staff to return to clinical duties, and provide greater access for community members to see loved ones in hospital.

Under the System Alert and Response (SAR) framework, a new blue alert level would begin on 15 August, scaling down from the current red level.

The Department said the key changes included some reduced screening requirements, targeted testing, and changes to mask rules for staff.

“Visitors to hospitals will still need proof of COVID-19 vaccination — or valid proof of exemption — with staff conducting spot checks, rather than mass on-entry inspections,” the Department said.

Voluntary testing of healthcare workers will continue under the blue alert level.

“All changes to the SAR were developed in collaboration with hospital and health system leaders, and approved by the Chief Health Officer,” it said.

“The measures have been designed to strike a balance between protecting healthcare workers and people at greatest risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19, while ensuring effective patient flow through hospitals.”

Minister for Health, Amber-Jade Sanderson said this was a measured approach to scaling back the COVID response in hospitals, which had been endorsed by the Chief Health Officer and expert infection control teams within the WA health system.

“In a time when WA has passed its most recent peak of COVID-19, it makes sense to take practical, reasonable measures to free up some burdens, and support healthcare workers and families supporting their loved ones in hospital,” Ms Sanderson said.

“This is, of course, balanced appropriately with the need to protect our staff, and our most vulnerable patients from serious illness,” she said.

“I would once again extend my thanks to all staff, patients and visitors for their ongoing support of WA’s hospital system, and to manage our COVID-19 response in what continues to be a very challenging time.”

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