Avant is united with the rest of society in respecting the work our members are all doing during the COVID-19 crisis. We are also keen to ensure all members are working in a safe environment, including students.
Working in clinical settings has presented considerable risk to healthcare workers due to COVID-19, and has resulted in some student placements being paused. Recently, Avant surveyed its members and the results give a clear message they are worried about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), the risk of infection and transferring it to their families.
AHPRA has produced National principles for clinical education during COVID-19 on how placements can occur safely. We will continue to advocate for members to get improvement on workplace safety
Here to support you
Some final year student members are being asked to assist with clinical activities and have contacted us to ask us about indemnity coverage. Avant is supporting student members by offering a free move to an intern policy, which provides greater cover*.
Care in clinical settings
Our medico-legal team has addressed members’ PPE concerns and can confirm that legally, you are not required to treat suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients if you don’t have access to the appropriate PPE.
We have compiled responses to questions frequently asked by members to help you keep safe in this unprecedented time when working in a hospital or other clinical setting.
Q: Can I refuse to work or ask to be redeployed if I am not provided with appropriate PPE?
A: Legally, yes. An employer cannot lawfully direct an employee to treat patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 unless the employer provides the recommended PPE. This is because an employer and employee must ensure the workplace health and safety of the employee as far as reasonably practicable by eliminating or minimising risks.
In considering how to manage risk, the employer and employee should have regard to expert advice (such as the PPE advice for treating suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients).
Q: Am I covered if I did not realise I had contracted COVID-19 and infected a patient?
A: Yes. Your student policy covers you for this. However, it is important that you take precautions and follow all available advice to ensure that you can prevent transmission where possible. There is no cover under your policy if you know, or should have reasonably known or suspected, that you had the virus and then transmitted it to a patient. Therefore, if you are aware that you are infected, or suspect that you might be, it is important that you cease practising immediately and inform your hospital/local health service immediately.
Q: If students are called upon to assist with the crisis, what protection will Avant provide?
A: Should final year students be asked to support the healthcare system during the COVID-19 crisis, Avant will increase cover to provide the same policy benefits afforded to intern and RMO members. This offers additional employment cover in addition to the indemnity cover required.
A full list of frequently asked questions and our advice on COVID-19, plus a list of useful resources, is available on our website.
Remember we are a member owned organisation and here to support you. If you require advice or have any concerns or questions, you can call us on 1800 128 268, even 24/7 in emergencies.