"I have a meeting with Minister Fyles tomorrow afternoon, and if I don't get any good results we will look at industrial action."
Katie Woolf spoke with Nursing Union NT Branch Secretary Cath Hatcher.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation are worried with the change in testing at Howard Springs will put Nurses and Community in Darwin at risk.
When asked what the staff at Howard Springs do if the testing regime isn't change, Cath Hatcher explained "I have a meeting with Minister Fyles tomorrow afternoon, and if I don't get any good results we will look at industrial action."
There are concerns regarding the testing at Howard Springs.
This past 7 months the AUSMAT team have been undertaking the following:
Rapid Antigen Test
- Which is a small nasal swab
- Results are within 10-15 minutes
- No need for test to go to the laboratory
- False positive rate is 1:10-20,000 according to the company CareStart
- 99.3% accuracy rate
PCR Nasopharyngeal Swab - weekly
- Takes 12-24 hours through a laboratory for the results
- Is a backup for the Rapid Antigen Test
- Highly accurate
- Is the gold standard
Now the Dr Stephens – Director of Howard Springs Quarantine Centre has changed the procedures undertaken with high risk staff?
- Still keeping the weekly PCR Nasopharyngeal swab which is sent to the laboratory - great
- Now introducing a saliva PCR test, which is conducted on saliva samples, this goes to laboratory
- Turnaround time can be one hour, but realistically the timeframe is more like 12 hours
- 500 tests per day extra on the Darwin Pathology is placing a strain on their systems, when they can only undertake 2,500 tests per day. This impacts on everyone else, regarding timeframes for their results to return.
- Key study based on the available data from the Doherty Institute shows the PCR on saliva samples drops to 87% sensitivity.
- As this daily test is going to the laboratory – there is a $100 rebate from Medicare, to the NTG.
As the nursing staff will not be living on Howard Springs anymore, these high risk staff could leave the facility and go into the community as COVID positive and wouldn’t possibly know until the next day when they get their PCR saliva test results.
This highlights the importance particularly now staff will not be living on campus, rapid 10-15 minute swab results are in order to protect the wider community.
Listen to the full chat here: