By Julie Owens MP

20 August 2021

Western Sydney has been left behind by Scott Morrison’s vaccine rollout. Now our hospitals are being stretched to breaking point.

Last week, three hospitals – Westmead, Blacktown and Nepean – were forced to turn away COVID patients.

As daily case numbers have tipped over one thousand, there has also been a surge in the number of hospitalisations and people needing intensive care. At time of writing, there are 115 people in intensive care and 43 people on ventilators.

The overwhelming majority of people in intensive care are unvaccinated. Only 13% have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

COVID patients are now filling 1 in 5 intensive care beds in NSW and there is very little capacity left in intensive care units to cope with the expected rise in case numbers.

Our hospital and community healthcare workers have been caught in the middle of this crisis. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and cleaners have taken huge personal risks and worked tirelessly to keep us safe since the beginning of the pandemic.

Now they tell us they’re exhausted. Paramedics backed up outside hospitals in COVID exposed PPE don’t even have the opportunity to have a drink of water or go to the toilet.

All these workers and the desperately ill patients filling up our hospital wards deserved much better. They deserved an effective vaccine rollout that gave everyone who wanted to get vaccinated the opportunity to do so.

Six months into the rollout, I’m still getting calls every day from people who can’t book a vaccine appointment in their local area. Others tell me they’re facing a months long wait to get their first dose when it’s now a requirement for them to go to work.

The NSW Government has announced an easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated people on 13 September. While I’m sure we’d all agree that we want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, only 20-29% on people in Parramatta and surrounding suburbs are fully vaccinated.

With Westmead Hospital turning away COVID patients and setting up a makeshift unit to triage patients, it’s obvious that we urgently need access to more vaccines.

That’s why I’m demanding that walk-in vaccination hubs be set up in the Parramatta CBD and surrounding suburbs.

The Morrison Government’s failure to secure enough vaccine supplies and get them where they’re most needed has put Western Sydney at greatest risk in this outbreak.

If you think our state and federal governments should stop blaming Western Sydney for this outbreak and start working together to set up walk-in vaccination centres in Parramatta now, sign the petition on my website.