Healthcare workers without the COVID-19 vaccination will return to Queensland hospitals as the government begins consultation to scrap a pandemic-enforced rule.
Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said the decision to enforce COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance staff no longer applied due to high jab rates and natural immunity in the community.
The decision to scrap the rule was made by Chief Health Officer John Gerrard, with some 1100 workers, or one per cent of health staff, stood down from the directive during the pandemic.
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“There were about 575 nurses, but there have also been about 1000 resignations, some of whom were not compliant with the vaccination mandate,” Fentiman told ABC Radio on Friday.
“This is an interim decision and the director-general will now consult with health workers over the next two weeks before making a final decision.
“But clearly, the health advice from our chief health officer is it’s really no longer required.”
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Fentiman said the risk to patients and staff within hospitals is minimal due to high levels of immunity in the community.
She said anyone who applies for a job with Queensland Health who is unvaccinated will be treated the same as any other worker.
The consultation phase to scrap the rule will last two weeks before a final decision is made.
Mandatory jabs for Queensland nurses and healthcare workers were implemented in 2021, with the requirement to be fully vaccinated by October 31 that year.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
and Chief Health Officer John Gerrard watched on as nurse Zoe Park received her second COVID-19 vaccine in March 2021. Credit: AAP
Healthcare workers who stood down or had their employment terminated because of the rule can reapply for work and will not be subjected to disciplinary action, Fentiman said.
She said there are about “a couple of hundred” matters yet to be resolved.
“If your employment has been terminated, or you’ve resigned and you want to reapply, that’s fine, there will be no ongoing requirements,” the health minister added.
“But if, right now, you’re in the middle of a disciplinary process that will continue. But we’ll take a case by case approach on that.”
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