Physicians need access to personal protective equipment

March 18 2020

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has said today that it is concerned by reports that specialist physicians are not being able to access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the Primary Health Networks channel that the Federal government has established.

Professor John Wilson, a respiratory physician and President-elect of the RACP said “the Government must ensure that specialist physicians, as well as GPs, have access to PPE in order to protect themselves and their patients, many of whom are particularly vulnerable with serious, pre-existing chronic conditions.

“The inability of specialist physicians in private and non-hospital community-based practices to access PPE may lead to some services not being able to continue. This is the last thing we need in the current environment.” Professor Wilson said.

The College has also written to all State and Territory Health Departments to emphasise the need for clinicians on the front line to be adequately supported.

“As the pandemic progresses, the College also recognises that many of our Fellows and Trainees are likely to be working under extreme pressure in their workplaces.

“It will be important to ensure that the welfare of all healthcare workers who are at the frontline is given priority attention. This includes ensuring safe working hours, addressing mental health issues as well as physical health and safety including infection control and the provision of appropriate PPE.

“The progressive restrictions on meeting numbers will have a significant impact on medical team meetings and decision-making. The need to resource effective video-conferencing alternatives is essential to facilitate rapid, risk-free communication.” said Professor Wilson.

The College also says it is vital that governments at all levels communicate clear and consistent public health messages around COVID-19 and particularly in relation to social distancing in order to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Associate Professor Linda Selvey, Public Health physician and President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health said “Clear information from medical authorities is important in keeping the public calm and well informed as we manage this outbreak.”

“It’s important that the community is prepared for the potential range of outcomes and are ready to act on the ongoing advice from health authorities as this pandemic evolves.

“We encourage the public to stay updated with the latest official medical advice being offered by their State and Federal Government health authorities.

The RACP will continue to work with the Minister and Department of Health in managing the outbreak of COVID 19, and ensuring that doctor wellbeing and safe working conditions are prioritised.

Last week the RACP welcomed the Federal Government’s $2.4 billion health response package to manage the impacts of COVID 19 in our population and on our health system. 

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