New Zealand doctors must have virus-free clean air at work – Sept 23

The open letter in support of medical colleagues.

To whoever is concerned:

Hospitals should be a place where everyone can go to feel safe. Our healthcare system depends on doctors being safe at work. Until hospitals and clinics provide virus-free clean air our doctors will continue leaving the profession due to preventable airborne illness.

This is a major problem because New Zealand is already short 1700 doctors and we are losing the doctors we already have. We need 300 more each year for 10 years to maintain and 400 doctors every year to realise pre-2000 levels. Training new doctors takes many years and NZ is nowhere near first on the list for overseas trained doctors.

Meanwhile desperately unwell people are catching airborne viruses while in hospital. Virus-free clean air is a must to eliminate the 10% patient mortality from hospital acquired pandemic virus.  Since more than half of  transmission can be from asymptomatic carriers, nearly 1/3rd of cases in hospitals can be hospital acquired infections and genomic studies show that healthcare workers may be the dominant source of transmission. Furthermore 27% of infected healthcare workers may require longer term care and of those up to 38% of people with long-term consequences develop a disability preventing work.

On the other hand we now have deep knowledge of aerosol protections that millions of people have suffered to bring us.  Certified protections against aerosol virus infections are available to protect everyone from rising infections in hospitals including the ASHRAE Building Standard 214-2023 ‘Control of Infectious Aerosols’. 

By taking the lead on workplace virus-free clean air we can stop infecting the doctors we do have and become a doctor magnet for those we don’t. We urge you to please ask your favourite politician what they are doing to provide virus-free clean air in hospitals. (

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