Top doctors missing out on vaccine
Hundreds of the state's doctors have been left out of the priority rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine with fears those working at private hospitals will have to join the long line at GP clinics for the shot.
Specialists who work independently at private hospitals and are not registered with Queensland Health have been overlooked as frontline medics in the Phase 1A rollout. Surgeons, ENT experts, doctors in obstetrics, gynaecology, radiology, anaesthetists and more who treat the public every day have no date in sight for receipt of the vaccine.
Specialists are very much in the front line in private hospitals as there are no junior doctors. Many of the doctors are older and at high risk from coronavirus.
The Australian Private Hospitals Association has put a proposal to the Health Department to vaccinate medics in the private hospitals but the specialists report there has been no movement on this request.
"Specialists in the private sector are every bit as frontline as their public hospital colleagues with the same risks and challenges but it looks like these doctors are not even on the phase 1B radar at the moment," an angry Queensland specialist told The Courier-Mail.
"Bear in mind that the overall provision of medical services hinges on both the public and the private systems working effectively in parallel. The public system is entirely incapable of providing the medical needs of the public without the private system and would be overwhelmed very quickly if that system was not functioning.
"It's interesting that Queensland Health believes that only public patients can carry COVID-19, clearly forgetting all the ED departments and surgical services in the private hospitals which in reality are just as likely to receive infected patients".
The doctor said he holds grave concerns that the Health Department has no records of doctors who are not working in the public system.
The president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland Professor Chris Perry said all health care workers including private specialists should be quickly prioritised for the vaccine.
Many doctors work both in public and private systems with patients moving between both.
"Queensland must not risk leaving gaps in the vaccine rollout especially in workplaces where people are vulnerable to infection," he said.
A Queensland Health spokesman said that the private specialists would be eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1b.
"Priority group 1a includes frontline health staff who work in areas that place them at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 during their day-to-day work. In the circumstance where a Queensland Health medical professional fitting this criteria is also employed in an independent or private setting, they would be eligible for vaccination through Queensland Health," he said.
Originally published as Top doctors missing out on vaccine