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Northern NSW Local Health District Statement

Northern NSW Local Health District Statement

Statement from Lynne Weir, Acting Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District

Since the start of the pandemic, Northern NSW Local Health District has been part of NSW Health’s forward planning, engaging with clinicians to ensure our hospitals have capacity to care for COVID-19 patients who need to be hospitalised.

There is currently sufficient ICU capacity in NSW public hospitals, but to reduce hospital and ICU admissions and deaths among adults, vaccination on a national scale is essential.

The more community members who are vaccinated against COVID-19, the better protected our region will be from any future outbreaks. We know that vaccination reduces an individual’s chance of both becoming seriously ill, and of passing on the virus to others around them, including children, so we encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to.

In our District, there are currently sufficient Intensive Care beds across our three major hospitals in Grafton, Lismore and Tweed, with plans in place to surge staffing and intensive care capacity, if and when required, our networked hospital system ensures patients can be transferred or redirected to other hospitals where necessary, including private hospitals.

Throughout the early stages of the pandemic, we sourced additional equipment, including ventilators, and we regularly review our stocks and supply chains of resources, including PPE and pharmacy items, to ensure adequate supplies.

From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern NSW Local Health District has been actively increasing its staffing and upskilling its workforce in readiness to care for COVID-19 patients in our region.

Additional training programs were developed for nurses, midwives, and allied health staff, with more than 265 staff attending surge training in Intensive Care, Emergency and Immunisation specialties to provide additional capacity to care for patients.

Lismore Base Hospital is the primary receiving hospital for COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalisation in the District, having recently undergone significant redevelopment to provide a new Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, as well as other general hospital wards. These refurbishments have also delivered more single room capacity across the facility. Our other major hospitals in the District also have trained staff and the necessary equipment to cater for COVID patients if required as the pandemic evolves.

Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, NNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 1,219 FTE staff - an increase of 32.3 per cent including 211 more doctors 461 more nurses and midwives and 141 more allied health staff.

Vaccinations

The Federal Government is responsible for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and the ability to administer doses is dependent on supply.

Supply of vaccines to General Practices and pharmacies across the region, including Byron Bay, is managed by the Commonwealth Government, and new vaccination clinics are regularly being added to the program.

This addition of new clinics has seen an approximate 5% increase in first dose vaccination rates for the week to 20 September for the LGAs in our footprint.

We’re expecting more growth in coming weeks as local pharmacies start being supplied with the Moderna vaccine.

Vaccination rates for Local Government Areas can be found on the Commonwealth Department of Health Website, with weekly reporting available at: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-localgovernment-area-lga-20-september-2021

Residents and visitors to Northern NSW have so far responded well to the public health measures put in place to reduce the chances of transmission of COVID-19 among the community over the past 18 months.

There is currently significant demand for vaccination bookings across NSW, including at NSW Health’s three vaccination clinics in Northern NSW, which are operational 6 and 7 days a week.

We are continuing to work collaboratively with other local health and emergency organisations as part of the region’s COVID-19 response.