The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:28): I seek leave to make brief explanation before asking the Minister for Health and Wellbeing a question about COVID communication.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: It has come to my attention that through the communication channel Overheard at Flinders University there is a variety of messages going around. Yesterday, the Flinders Medical Centre sent an email which stated that a decision had been made from a SALHN perspective that:
ALL Flinders University students who are currently on placement will need to go to the COVID Clinic and undertake a swab and then are to be sent home until further notice.
Effective IMMEDIATELY, all Flinders University PLACEMENTS SMGP and COCE are cancelled until further notice.
If any students present they will be sent to the COVID clinic for testing and sent home.
Apologies are made by the Flinders Medical Centre management for the changing circumstances but this is their decree. This has caused confusion with a range of other local health networks. I note that there have been posts from those at The QEH, the RAH and the Women's and Children's hospitals that their students are still to attend and complete their placements. However, a Flinders staff member has said:
I'm literally sitting in FMC right now for an appointment. My student midwife wasn't able to attend, but we were told only Sturt students were not allowed, and my actual obstetrician said she thought they had exemptions for students on pracs if they hadn't been on campus during the relevant dates.
However, the practice seems to be that Sturt, Tonsley and Bedford Park students are all being sent for a COVID test and sent home. My question to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing is: if the health sector isn't able to get this right, then how can you possibly expect the community to?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:30): I will make two points in response to that. I will seek advice from SALHN as to the basis for their advice, but every employer has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of their employees, and COVID is no different.
I suppose one of the issues with the placements, as you were talking about group work, is if you are talking about people potentially coming together that may well be a part of the consideration. The second point I will make is that one of the characteristics of the pandemic is that it is dynamic, and the Sturt campus situation is a good example of that.
The Hon. T.A. Franks: This is Tonsley and Flinders more broadly, not just the Sturt campus. They—
The PRESIDENT: The minister is on his feet.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: I am actually trying to address the honourable member's question, if she could allow me to draw the link. My understanding is that at the end of the first week of the Parafield cluster there was a single case linked to the school on the Flinders campus, and at that stage my understanding is that the—
The Hon. T.A. Franks: The Sturt campus, not Flinders; not the Flinders campus.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister is answering the question.
The Hon. T.A. Franks: Incorrectly.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister—
The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister is answering the question and he will be heard in silence.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: Obviously, the member has little interest in an explanation. All I will say is that at the earliest stages—
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Point of order, Mr President.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: You are not giving me a chance to answer the question—
The PRESIDENT: Resume your seat, minister. The point of order, Hon. Ms Franks?
The PRESIDENT: Order, on both sides! I would like to hear the point of order from the Hon. Ms Franks.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The member characterised my interest. I have great interest, so he has mischaracterised my intention.
The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order, but the minister is going to conclude his response, I am sure. I call for the minister to be heard in silence.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: I will do it quickly, and make the point that public health advice developed over time as more cases were identified at the Sturt campus of the Flinders University.
The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: Order! The time for questions is concluded.