Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer interview on Sky News First Edition on 12 May

Read the transcript of Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan’s interview on 12 May 2020 with Peter Stefanovic about COVID-19.

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PETER STEFANOVIC: Well joining us now is the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan. Alison, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us. There has been so much talk over the last day or so about a potential second wave being, I guess, worse than the first wave. Is that a fear that you share?

ALISON MCMILLAN: It's something we're all considering, it is a possibility and it's going to really rely on people continuing to do the right thing. We are prepared, but we're keen to see people continue to do that social distancing and hygiene, and that will avoid seeing that wave in the future.

PETER STEFANOVIC: [Talks over] So, how are you prepared?

ALISON MCMILLAN: Well, we're prepared, we've got an enormous capacity to test, as you know now. And we're testing significant numbers every day - we're up to almost 700,000 tests now. We've got the ability to find cases very quickly with an enormously expanded workforce, and of course our hospital system has been expanded and is prepared. Should we see a second wave, we are prepared, but it's not something we want to see and we will avoid it if at all possible.

PETER STEFANOVIC: But is there a level of complacency that's creeping in? I mean, I've noticed by being out and about by just walking around a shopping centre to pick up some groceries, that there's a lot of people that are cramming into them. And that's just one example, other people are seeing other examples. Is there a level of complacency that you've been able to identify?

ALISON MCMILLAN: I think we are seeing some people returning to habits, former habits. So, it's really important that we're all out there doing the right thing - you know, those things like go to the supermarket, use a trolley; it helps you do that social distancing. You know, go to the shopping centre if you need to, but make sure you're thinking about what's around you and who's around you. And we'll all keep each other safe that way, I think that's what we need to be thinking about; how we keep each other safe.

PETER STEFANOVIC: For a worst case scenario, I mean when it comes to beds for example at the moment, are there enough?

ALISON MCMILLAN: Well, yes, yes there's enough. We have done huge amounts of work to expand our hospital system, particularly because of what we've seen overseas with the demand on intensive care requirements. So, we have, as you know, trained additional nurses to be ready if we need to call on them and an enormous amount of additional equipment out there. So we're prepared, again, we want- we're prepared, but it's not something we want to see if we can avoid it.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay. Well, I mean this of course is all worst case scenario at the moment. I guess that it's natural to have apprehensions at the moment because people are all of a sudden being released, if we can use that word, out into the public again. But when it comes to plans for the return of elective surgery, are they still on track?

ALISON MCMILLAN: They are on track. So we have seen a return of elective surgery, that was announced some weeks ago and we're monitoring very closely how that's going. Obviously we wanted to not see our- we want to maintain our hospital capacity, watch how much of that precious PPE equipment we're using. But that's going fine and we are seeing people getting the urgent surgery that they require across the country; that will continue and we'll monitor.

PETER STEFANOVIC: [Talks over] And PPE- sorry to interrupt, yeah, you brought up PPE there, there is enough of all of that as well?

ALISON MCMILLAN: Yes, yes. We've had enormous amounts of supply come in and we have a very reliable supply ready and waiting if it's called upon. And of course, a lot of that has been distributed out to hospitals across the country, so they've got that equipment in stock ready to use whenever it's needed.

PETER STEFANOVIC: So what- do you have any concerns at the moment, Alison, and if so, what are they? The most pressing concerns for you at this juncture?

ALISON MCMILLAN: I think my most pressing concerns is that we too quickly forget where we've been and all of the great work that all of Australians have done. We will and expect to see small increases in cases over the coming weeks as we begin to move around and as schools return. And we need to be dealing with those really quickly. That's why we're encouraging obviously everyone to download that app, because that's a vital part of our armoury in combating and quickly getting to any outbreak we might see.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay, alright. Well, that's all the time we've got. Alison McMillan, appreciate your time this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.



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