Masks & Other PPE

Access and Distribution of Surgical Masks 

Update 28 September 2020
Queensland Health have released 'Pandemic Response Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Healthcare Delivery’ The Guidance has been developed by a panel of infection control and public health experts and is designed to provide clarity and consistency for decisions regarding PPE and is applicable across all healthcare settings. Further information on the use of PPE during the pandemic can be found on the Queensland Health website. All other Hospital and Health Services remain on ’low risk’. 

Update 3 September 2020
The Department of Health and Human Services has updated their guide to the conventional use of PPE. To ensure you are aware of the most recent changes, all content updates and the date the document was last updated will be highlighted in yellow. View the document here.

Update 21 September 2020
Queensland Health have released 'Pandemic Response Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Healthcare Delivery’ The Guidance has been developed by a panel of infection control and public health experts and is designed to provide clarity and consistency for decisions regarding PPE and is applicable across all healthcare settings. The following Local Government Areas have been determined by the Chief Health Officer to be in the ‘moderate risk’ category:

  • City of Brisbane
  • City of Ipswich
  • Logan City
  • Scenic Rim Region
  • Somerset Region
  • Lockyer Valley Region
  • Moreton Bay Region
  • Redlands City

Moderate risk requires use of flat surgical masks in most clinical settings for staff, patients and visitors. Further information on the use of PPE during the pandemic can be found on the Queensland Health website. All other Hospital and Health Services remain on ’low risk’. 

Update 3 August 2020
IMPORTANT: Updated PPE guidance for all healthcare workers in Victoria

Due to an increased risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) the PPE Taskforce has updated its advice for ALL healthcare workers in Victoria. The updated advice includes information on surgical masks, staffing, eye protection, respirators and extended. This update includes:
MASKS: All staff must wear (at a minimum) a level 1 or type 1 surgical mask while at work. This includes non-public facing staff. Do not use cloth masks at work. Members can source masks online from places such as Chemist Warehouse, Priceline and other retailers.
EYE PROTECTION: (Goggles & Face Shields) - Staff who are directly involved in treating patients must wear eye protection. Members can source face shield and goggles online from places such as RSEAMed Shop, Pack Queen and other retailers.
Please review the full update here.


Update 27 July 2020
As of Friday 24 July 2020 NSW Health has escalated PPE controls to a moderate risk level (Amber). This restriction applies to all health care workers in the NSW Local Health Districts (LHDs) and the  Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (SCHN). In addition to taking standard PPE precautions, health care workers in these settings are required to wear a surgical mask when providing care within 1.5m of a patient. Patients & visitors are also required to wear masks on presentation and during transit to their appointments. Please note, this advice applies to all hospital and community health settings in the NSW LHDs and in the SCHN. 

With the safety of clients and clinicians in mind, OTA recommends that all other NSW based OT clinical services (e.g. private practice) also apply this level of protection during this period of restriction. Please refer to the NSW Health Website for regular COVID-19 updates of this current restriction.


Update: 20 July 2020
Following the upgrading of DHHS PPE  guidance for healthcare workers on Friday 17 July OTA has been provided with a summary of this guidance as it pertains to allied health private practitioners and/or community sector practice.

The revised guidance pertains to metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire as well as regional and rural areas not currently under stage 3 restrictions, and states that ‘healthcare workers must wear a level 1 or type 1 disposable surgical mask in public-facing areas ...  patients should also wear face masks in these same environments’.  Refer to: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/personal-protective-equipment-ppe-covid-19

Prof Andrew Wilson (SCV Chief Medical Officer & PPE Taskforce Chair) has confirmed that the guidance should be interpreted in the context of the type of patient interaction, and is therefore not limited to specific practice settings.


On 19 July the Victorian Premier announced that people living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will be required to wear a face-covering when leaving home for one of the four essential reasons, (taking effect from 11:59pm on Wednesday 22 July). For more information please view the full media release.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has provided detailed information on the requirements, exemptions and FAQs regarding face coverings on their website

Members can source masks online from places such as Chemist Warehouse, Priceline and other retailers. Additionally, allied health professionals are now eligible for limited access to the supply for the use of their staff when there is no available commercial supply and they are working in higher-risk clinical areas, and with higher risk vulnerable patients. Given the diverse nature of the allied health sector, when determining whether the allocation of masks is appropriate, PHNs have been asked to consider:

  • The likelihood of the worker having direct or close contact with high-risk patients who are presenting with fever and/or respiratory symptoms. For example: a respiratory physiotherapist working with patients with cough, sore throat and/or shortness of breath, as compared to an exercise physiologist who is likely to be working with well individuals
  • The extent to which the allied health professional can manipulate their environment or practice method to reduce the chance of transmission. For example: due to the nature of their work, a diagnostic radiographer cannot easily change their mode of practise or environment, whereas a dietitian or psychologist may be able to continue to provide services through telehealth.
  • The relative vulnerability of the patients that the allied health professionals are treating. For example: where the allied health professional is routinely treating patients who are immunocompromised, or those who are elderly or disabled.

There remains an assumption that allied health professions will, where possible, not see patients with respiratory symptoms or at a higher risk of COVID-19 unless required to as part of their core business (for example: an optometrist can defer seeing a patient with respiratory symptoms until that person is well).

Quantities

Generally, requesting providers will be allocated:

  • GP Respiratory Clinics, General practices and ACCHS: two boxes (100 masks) for each clinic within the practice or ACCHS
  • After-hours GP home visiting services, MDS, and Nurse Practitioner owned or led primary care practices: one box (50 masks) per practice/service
  • Community pharmacy: one box (50 masks) per community pharmacy
  • Allied Health: one box (50 masks) per practice

However, depending on remaining stocks, PHNs have the flexibility to increase the allocation based on practice size or other demonstrated need. This particularly applies to areas of high need and/or lack of availability of other services (such as remote locations).

Prioritisation

The Australian Department of Health has provided national guidance on prioritisation. Several allied health professions have been deemed high priority. These are:

  • Speech pathologists
  • Respiratory physiotherapists
  • Sonographers
  • Diagnostic radiographers

Other professions that provide hands-on interventions have been categorised as moderate priority. These are:

  • Orthotists/prosthetists
  • Other physiotherapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Exercise physiologists
  • Osteopaths
  • Orthoptists
  • Chiropractors
  • Audiologists
  • Optometrists

Advice for residential aged care facilities

If Commonwealth-funded aged care providers are experiencing shortages and are unable to obtain masks from any other source, the National Medical Stockpile may be in a position to provide a small supply to supplement existing supplies for Aged Care providers, including DVA Aged Care providers. 

All requests will be considered, and if appropriate, approval will be given to dispatch stock from the states and territories who are distributing National Medical Stockpile supplies to Commonwealth-funded aged care providers, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

After a facility has explored alternative supply options, they may request supply from the National Medical Stockpile by emailing AgedCareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au. This request will be reviewed and triaged based on need and urgency, with priority given to aged care providers where there has been a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. Facilities may be contacted for further information about their request to determine priority, and may also be requested to reimburse the Stockpile at cost depending on circumstances

Advice for NDIS providers

If NDIS and disability support providers are experiencing shortages and are unable to obtain masks from any other source, the National Medical Stockpile may be able to provide a small supply to supplement existing supplies.

After disability support providers have explored alternative supply options, they can submit a request for supply from the National Medical Stockpile by emailing NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au.

All requests will be reviewed and triaged based on urgency, with priority given to disability support providers and self-managing participants where there is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. Providers may be contacted for further information about their request to determine priority. Providers may also be requested to reimburse the NMS at cost depending on circumstances. For care workers to protect themselves and the vulnerable people with disabilities they are caring for it is important to undertake the training available at covid-19training.gov.au.

COVID-19 and face masks - Information for consumers

This fact sheet explains how to safely put on and remove face masks. It also reinforces the importance of existing prevention measures including staying home if you have symptoms, physical distancing, hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

This article from Harvard Medical School provides information on helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests. 

How to apply for surgical masks via PHNs

Please visit the Primary Health Network map to identify which PHN you belong to. Once you’ve identified your PHN, please refer to the list below. If your PHN is not included in this list, please use the contact details on the Department of Health website to get in touch with your PHN.

VIC & TAS

PHN

General website

Mask ordering process - Allied Health

Eastern Melbourne PHN

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Gippsland PHN

PHN COVID website

To request a supply, or if you have any questions, please contact Gippsland PHN:

Phone: 03 5175 5444

Email: info@gphn.org.au

North Western Melbourne

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Murray PHN

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Primary Health Tasmania

PHN COVID website

Visit the PHN COVID website, navigate to ‘surgical masks’ and follow the instructions.

South Eastern Melbourne PHN

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Western Victoria

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Tasmania PHN

PHN COVID website

Visit the PHN COVID website, navigate to ‘surgical masks’ and follow the instructions.

 


 

ACT & NSW

PHN

General website

Mask ordering process

ACT (Capital Health)

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Central and Eastern Sydney

PHN COVID website

See the information regarding masks for allied health. Online ordering process

Hunter New England Central Coast

PHN website

Online ordering process

Murrumbidgee

PHN website

Online ordering process

Nepean Blue Mountains PHN

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

North Coast NSW PHN

PHN COVID website

Look at the information regarding surgical masks and follow the process by ordering (currently being updated)

North Sydney PHN

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

SENSW PHN (Coordinare)

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

South Western Sydney

PHN COVID website

See information about surgical mask and follow the process for ordering. Email enquiries to enquiries@swsphn.com.au

Western Sydney

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Western NSW

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

SA

PHN

General website

Mask ordering process

Country SA

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Adelaide

PHN COVID website

See the information on surgical masks and complete the 'Pharmacy, Aboriginal Controlled Health Service and Eligible Allied Health Surgical Mask EOI' and return to covid19@adelaidephn.com.au

QLD

PHN

General website

Mask ordering process

Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Gold Coast

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Western Queensland

PHN COVID website

No designated application process for allied health. Contact the PHN to request surgical masks.

Darling Downs and West Moreton

PHN COVID website

No designated ordering process for masks. To order masks, contact the Primary Care Liaison team: practicesupport@ddwmphn.com.au

Northern Queensland

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Brisbane North

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

Brisbane South

PHN COVID website

Online ordering process

 

NT

The Northern Territory PHN advises that they have not yet received masks and do not have an ordering process in place. We advise members to contact the PHN via their website: https://www.ntphn.org.au.

WA

If you are located in WA you will need to complete the COVID19 Request form.
 

 OTA acknowledges Speech Pathology Australia for the table of PHN contact  information.

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