A new survey suggests nearly 80% of Australian healthcare workers are fearful of contracting COVID-19, while many are also concerned how the federal government has responded to the outbreak.
The findings, which came from a survey of 400 Australian healthcare workers by TKW Research from 25-27 March, showed that four-tenths of respondents said they were “not confident” Australia’s healthcare system can manage the outbreak of the virus, while a similar number were “critical” of the speed of the federal response to the disease’s spread.
TKW Research’s Drew Le Grand said some workers were also concerned they may inadvertently contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.
“While some healthcare professionals were worried for their own safety, many were really concerned about becoming infected and then passing it on to others; becoming part of the problem, not the solution,” Mr Le Grand said.
“Even though it is early days in terms of the virus workload, healthcare work stress is impacting 71% of staff. Around half of those surveyed have experienced anxiety and 43% have experienced tiredness since the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
While many workers believed Australia’s healthcare was one of the world’s best, there were multiple reasons for their concerns.
Depleted stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the change in working environment and increased number of patients were among the reason given, as well as a belief that the healthcare system was at capacity.
Additionally, 55% of worker said they were working more without receiving an increase in income.
“A common sentiment was that staff are very proud of the Australian healthcare system and they consider it one of the best in the world,” Mr Le Grand explained.
“However, the majority of healthcare professionals felt Australia’s healthcare system was already at capacity before the COVID-19 pandemic and that the spread of the virus will only bring further stress to the system.”
Referring to the numbers of people who felt the government weren’t fast enough in their response, Mr Le Grand qualified that observation by adding that workers remained happy with the measures that were put in place.
“Healthcare professionals are very positive about the measures put in place, they just feel the response was slower than they wanted to see,” he said.
“Healthcare professionals are not only worried about the increase in patient numbers but also how best to deal with them given many are scared, misinformed and have expectations that often can’t be met.”
At the time of publication, there were more than 5,000 recorded cases of COVID-19 across Australia; 24 people have lost their lives to the disease.