January 10, 2022

Message from the Chief Executive

Dear all,

Northern Health is preparing for one of the greatest challenges we’ve faced in this pandemic – the growing demand for care at a time when our available workforce is decreasing due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Even though Omicron is a milder variant, the projected hospitalisations for COVID cases in Victoria are expected to continue to grow and peak around the end of January 2022. This is a similar trajectory already being demonstrated by New South Wales.

This week here at Northern Health, we have experienced approximately eight per cent of our workforce have either been confirmed COVID positive and many others have been furloughed due to close contact/household exposures. We have a high number of patients both presenting to the Emergency Department and requiring admissions for COVID.

With the current wave expected to run for another six to eight weeks, we are expecting between 15 to 20 per cent of our staff will be unavailable to work at its absolute peak. Now more than ever we need to live our organisational values of Safe, Kind and Together.

Our staff are essential to delivering the best quality of health care to all of our patients, and it is only because of the size of this challenge that I am asking all staff to please review their current approved annual leave over the coming six weeks and either (i) reduce their applied leave by 50 per cent (i.e. if you have two weeks planned, could you only take one week) or (ii) postpone your leave outright and reschedule for late March 2022 and beyond.

I have given much consideration to this request, and it is not one I have taken lightly. However, over the next six weeks, we need as many of our staff, clinical and non-clinical, who can work to do so, supporting colleagues and patients through this wave.

 Therefore, I am asking you to please consider my  request and speak with your manager, colleagues and families over the coming days. Heads of Units, Nurse Managers and Directors will talk with teams about this at the local level. Of course, you can always seek more information through our People and Culture team.

I know so many of you need time to rest and recuperate, and that would be my wish for you. However, maintaining sufficient staffing is our greatest current challenge. We must continue to meet the needs of our patients and share that workload as much as possible.

As always, I am truly appreciative of the many sacrifices you have made and continue to make through this the pandemic to support each other and our community.

Siva Sivarajah
Chief Executive