More than 400 nurses and midwives throughout South Australia’s public hospitals have completed training to upskill in readiness for a COVID-19 surge.

Premier Steven Marshall said extra training for staff at the frontline of the COVID-19 response was another part of the State Liberal Government’s strong plan to ensure the South Australian health system was prepared for all scenarios.

“One month since we announced our plan to rapidly upskill and recruit more nurses and midwives, we are continuing to build capability and capacity throughout our hospitals as part of an effective and ongoing response to COVID-19,” Premier Marshall said.

“Increasing capacity in our healthcare system is about more than beds and ventilators – it is absolutely essential that we expand and upskill our workforce to deliver quality ICU-level care.”

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Marshall Liberal Government has also undertaken a recruitment drive to bolster the ranks of our nurses and midwives, including people qualified and experienced in critical care.

“The skills and training undertaken by these frontline staff will both bolster our ability to respond to the COVID-19 threat and increase the knowledge and skill set of hundreds of nurses and midwives after the pandemic,” Minister Wade said.

“Up to 100 nurses and midwives have also taken on vital roles outside the traditional hospital system – including airport screening, contact tracing, repatriation of international travellers, managing the safe distribution of PPE and providing out of hospital support services.

“On behalf of all South Australians I express my deep and heartfelt gratitude to the nurses and midwives who are stepping up to protect us all from this global pandemic – we are incredibly appreciative of your dedication and commitment to service and care,” Minister Wade said.

“Your service is particularly poignant as 2020 marks the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, with the International Day of the Midwife on 5 May and International Day of the Nurse on 12 May.”

Another 300 courses have also been made available for nurses and midwives throughout the private hospital system, providing a strong boost to the State’s capacity to provide high-level care amid the pandemic.

SA Health Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Associate Professor Jenny Hurley, said the Department for Health and Wellbeing has developed a five-day accelerated intensive and critical care program to supplement and complement Local Health Network strategies

“It’s great to see that nurses and midwives in SA have embraced the opportunity to undertake extra training for COVID-19, including more than 1,200 who have enrolled in the Commonwealth-funded High Dependency/Critical Care online course,” said Ms Hurley.

“For anyone yet to enrol, there are still more than 500 funded additional places available.

“Our Country Health Rural Support Service has also developed a COVID-19 Acute Care Course – to prepare rural nursing and medical staff for triaging, assessing and managing suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases – which they have made an open resource for the benefit of country GPs.

“Every minute, every shift, every day, nurses and midwives make a real difference in our community – and never before has this been more evident.”

For the latest information on coronavirus in South Australia, visit the SA Health website at sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVID2019 or phone the SA COVID-19 Information line on 1800 253 787.