PPE insufficient, say Qld's frontline doctors

Friday, 03 April, 2020

PPE insufficient, say Qld's frontline doctors

A survey conducted by Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland reveals that more than 70% of Queensland doctors at the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis do not have sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE). Some medical facilities have also reported making their own hand sanitiser.

AMA Queensland President Dr Dilip Dhupelia said the online survey revealed 84% of doctors were not confident they would be able to access sufficient and appropriate PPE as they continued to work on the COVID-19 frontline. More than 53% had bought masks and other protective equipment for themselves and their staff.

“By 8 am this morning [1 April], more than 625 doctors had responded to our online survey, which was posted at 4 pm on Monday,” Dr Dhupelia said.

“These are both private and public doctors as well as those working in GP clinics in the community — the very people who are putting their own safety on the line to care for and treat Queenslanders.

“While we acknowledge that the COVID-19 crisis has entered our lives very quickly, clear guidance on where and when and how much PPE is available is crucial for frontline doctors and nurses.”

One GP wrote in the survey, “We are nearly out of surgical masks (which is all the PPE we have) and requests for supply have been declined. We are also out of hand sanitiser and making our own (with limited success).”

Another surveyed doctor said, “There’s a lot of anxiety in my workplace (operating theatres) about PPE supply. Also concerns that management may not be prioritising PPE supply. I think if staff had better communication about PPE supply, it would reduce anxiety levels and improve trust.”

Dr Dhupelia said Queensland Health repeatedly assured AMA it had a stockpile of PPE and no healthcare workers would be put at risk when treating patients with COVID-19, but one frontline doctor wrote, “It is painful to see and hear officials talk about PPE supply not being an issue, while on the frontline in my emergency department we are being told to wear the same mask for several shifts in a row (providing [we are] not [treating] high-risk patients) in order to preserve PPE.”

“The government needs to come clean to Queensland’s health workers,” Dr Dhupelia said.

“They have every right to expect and receive up-to-date, consistent and clear information about where and when they can access the protective equipment required to do their jobs safely.

“Transparent communication about PPE supply and distribution is essential to instil confidence and reduce anxiety to our essential frontline doctors and nurses.”

AMA Queensland survey responses. For a clearer image, click here.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/itsallgood

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