CORONAVIRUS HEALTH SUPPORT

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Will the minister update the council on initiatives to support health staff?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing): I thank the honourable member for his question. Every South Australian should be in no doubt as to the significance of the challenge presented by COVID-19, not only in terms of public health but also in terms of the impact on our health system and the impact on our society and economy. This burden will be carried by everyone in South Australia, and that is why the Marshall Liberal government has a strong plan to respond to the range of impacts of the pandemic.

What we have witnessed overseas is that, as the front-line response to a pandemic, our doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance officers and allied health professionals will bear the brunt of the pandemic as it rolls out in South Australia. Their skill, dedication and hard work to protect and care for South Australians is literally the foundation of the response to the pandemic in South Australia and is the key mantle of safety for our community.

The pandemic will increase pressure on our staff, and I want to thank them for what they have already done in our hospitals and right across the health system. Not only are they already responding to COVID cases through clinics, treatment and home nursing, but they are also in extraordinary times continuing to maintain every day the health care that South Australians need across all of the other domains of their health.

In particular I would like to thank SA Pathology for its role in this response. With over 33,000 tests performed, SA Pathology has put South Australia in the forefront of the world in testing per capita. The government recognises the pressure on staff and one step we have taken to support our clinicians is the provision of hotel rooms for staff who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. This initiative will give staff peace of mind that they will not be putting their families at risk as they seek to serve our community. It will also provide a place for staff to recharge when they are not on duty. SA Health is working with several providers, in terms of providing these services, and any provider interested in joining the process can go to the SA Health tenders website.

South Australia has been at the cutting edge in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. South Australia introduced drive-through clinic centres to Australia, with other states following, and now both Victoria and New South Wales have announced programs for staff accommodation following this government's announcement. We are determined to support our staff during this pandemic and beyond. Securing accommodation for our at-risk staff is a clear demonstration of that commitment. We care for those who care for us.