Healthcare worker calls for priority COVID-19 tests after waiting 19 hours for results

A healthcare worker is calling for essential workers' COVID-19 tests to be prioritised after waiting 19 hours for their test results. 

It comes after another day of chaos at testing stations across Auckland with people facing hours of waiting in crawling queues. 

Close contacts and essential workers - including health workers - have no way to get tested quickly. It's prompted one healthcare worker to speak out - calling for a triaging system to prioritize those who need a test most. 

The worker told Newshub they waited six hours in line at a testing centre - as their hospital wouldn't provide testing for symptomatic staff.

The worker didn't want to be interviewed for fear of losing their job but said they were told to show ID and their test would be prioritised and they'd get a result in 90 minutes. 

They didn't get their negative result back for 19 hours - taking them out of work for two whole days.

"It puts an enormous amount of pressure on our colleagues and we don't want that, we don't want them to burn out," they said. 

The health worker is flabbergasted there is not a triaging system at testing stations. 

"It's hopeless. It's going to cripple DHBs." 

And they aren't alone. Peter Tevata is an essential worker. He went to a location of interest - he's now spent two days waiting in line to get tested. 

"I came yesterday about 10am and by the time I was just about there they said they were going to close down so I went back home," he said.

Newshub has also learned 120 staff at North Shore Hospital who had contact with a case that visited were told they cannot be tested as part of their DHB's onsite testing. Instead, they must go to the testing stations - and wait in line with everyone else.

Taking out some of our vital health workforces for days while they wait for tests. 

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said DHB will have testing for symptomatic staff up and running by tomorrow morning.

That's three days too late for critical healthcare workers taken out of the fold.