Laboratory workers across the country believe they are not getting the recognition they deserve as they plough through daily Covid-19 testing.
Labs are processing between 30,000 and 40,000 Covid tests a day, on top of the roughly 200,000 regular lab tests they do.
Institute of Medical Laboratory Science president Terry Taylor said criticism from a small number of people about the competency and ability of lab scientists was unfair.
”It does come as a bit of a kick in the pants when we get people telling us we should be this, or should be doing that … and often there is very little backing for what they are saying.”
The institute represents about 4000 workers.
“Our on-the-ground diagnostic laboratory response has clearly been the one shining example of how a large competent workforce can be channelled to provide a specific task quickly and effectively.”
He said unfounded criticism indirectly undervalued what lab scientists and technicians were doing on the ground.
”We are actually recognised health professionals in our own right and we actually work within the most quality-controlled environment of any of the other medical professionals,” he said, adding that the workers the institute represented were also “experts in quality-assurance and quality-control”.
”As scientists we do all of those roles on a daily basis.”
Taylor said lab technicians were working very long hours to turn around Covid results.
”Basically dawn to dusk and even into the night to get the results through.’
”It’s quite daunting if you get 10,000 samples put on your desk every morning and are expected to get them through very quickly.
”For people to throw barbs at us when we are really working in this extreme level is a little bit unfair,” he said.
Taylor said lab workers had stepped up to the challenge of Covid-19.
“It is easy for those outside of the diagnostic laboratory testing environment in Aotearoa New Zealand to instantly blame those who are working tirelessly on the front line for inherent system policy issues outside of their control.”