Prof. Lorna Moxham would be more than happy to re-join the clinical workforce

The ABC recently reported that over 40,000 former doctors, pharmacists, midwives and nurses have been called upon to rejoin the health sector, to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recruitment plan would see former health workers come out of retirement. It would also allow workers whose registration has lapsed within the past three years to apply for work.

Professor Lorna Moxham is an IHMRI affiliate with more than 40 years’ experience as a registered nurse. She said that it is a good idea to get extra practitioner health support, but wondered why it has not been extended to people like her.

“I am a registered nurse, I could go and help clinically. There are a lot of  registered nurses who are now academics, but no one appears to have considered us,” she said.

“I would absolutely be willing and able to go, if I was guaranteed appropriate personal protective equipment and support in the instance I contract COVID-19.”

Health worker protection needs to be considered

Professor Moxham said she believes that the people power, will and scope of practice is definitely there. However, protection needs to be put in place for people who re-enter the clinical workforce under this scheme.

“There is a lot of discussion that there just isn’t enough PPE [personal protective equipment] for people. Additionally, what happens if they do contract COVID-19? Will they be covered, will they get sick leave?” she said.

While Professor Moxham supports this strategy, she said it also shows a larger problem.

“We need to look at the global health worker shortage, particularly the shortage of nurses who make up about 70% of the clinical workforce, which we’ve known about for a long time,” she said. 

“We need to be proactive not reactive. This is an unusual circumstance, but if we didn’t have that shortage perhaps we wouldn’t need to make this call.”

Media contact

Lizzie Jack

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