Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
personal protective equipment for primary care.

Page last updated: 1:15pm, 3 August 2020

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is distributing masks to eligible general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, after-hours GP home visiting services, Medical Deputising Services, nurse practitioner owned or led primary care practices, allied health services and community pharmacies in the areas of highest risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NWMPHN has a limited supply of gowns from the National Medical Stockpile to be distributed to practices in accordance with guidance from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

NWMPHN has not received any goggles or face shields from the National Medical Stockpile and cannot supply these. We are distributing masks and gowns in accordance with the Tranche 4 guidance from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

The Commonwealth Government has provided specific advice on the types of organisations that Primary Health Networks can distribute masks to. More information about masks and other personal protecive equipment can be found below.

Request masks or gowns for general practice or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

We are distributing surgical masks from the Commonwealth Government’s fourth tranche to eligible general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, after-hours GP home visiting services and Medical Deputising Services in the areas of highest risk. We currently also have a limited supply of P2 masks in stock. However, the Commonwealth Department of Health has advised that P2/N95 masks should be preserved for clinics that are undertaking aerosol generating procedures only.

We also have a limited supply of gowns from the National Medical Stockpile to be distributed to practices in accordance with the Tranche 4 guidance from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

If your practice believes it is in a high risk area and is assessing a large number of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and requires more masks or gowns, please fill out this online form.

Please note:

  • Please read the Department of Health Guidance on use of PPE in non-inpatient health care settings during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • P2/N95 respirators are not required for testing suspected cases (only for those with severe pneumonia).
  • General practices require full personal protective equipment, including gown, gloves and eye protection in additions to masks, in order to conduct COVID-19 testing. NWMPHN has not received any supplies of PPE besides masks.
  • If general practices do not have adequate PPE, they should refer cases to appropriate screening clinics after screening the patient to ensure they meet the DHHS suspected case definition.
  • The above forms are not order forms and they do not guarantee you will receive more masks.
  • There is an international shortage of both surgical and P2/N95 masks; NWMPHN has a limited supply. We are closely monitoring the situation and can only distribute masks to areas of highest risk. Practices should submit one form only and wait for a response.
Request masks for community pharmacy

We are distributing surgical masks from the Commonwealth Government’s fourth tranche to eligible community pharmacies in the areas of highest risk. We currently also have a limited supply of P2 masks in stock. However, the Commonwealth Department of Health has advised that P2/N95 masks should be preserved for clinics that are undertaking aerosol generating procedures only.

If your pharmacy believes it is in a high risk area and is assessing a large number of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and requires more masks, please fill out this online form.

Please note:

  • The above forms are not order forms and they do not guarantee you will receive more masks.
  • There is an international shortage of both surgical and P2/N95 masks; NWMPHN has a limited supply. We are closely monitoring the situation and can only distribute masks to areas of highest risk. Pharmacies should submit one form only and wait for a response.
  • Masks distributed through PHNs cannot be sold as commercial stock.
Request masks or gowns for nurse practitioner owned or led primary care practice

We are distributing surgical masks from the Commonwealth Government’s fourth tranche to eligible nurse practitioner owned or led primary care practices in the areas of highest risk. We currently also have a limited supply of P2 masks in stock. However, the Commonwealth Department of Health has advised that P2/N95 masks should be preserved for clinics that are undertaking aerosol generating procedures only.

We also have a limited supply of gowns from the National Medical Stockpile to be distributed to practices in accordance with the Tranche 4 guidance from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

If your practice believes it is in a high risk area and is assessing a large number of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and requires more masks, please fill out this online form.

Please note:

  • Practices should submit one form only and wait for a response.
  • The above forms are not order forms and they do not guarantee you will receive more masks.
  • As supplies are limited, Primary Health Networks have been asked to distribute surgical masks to practices with demonstrated need, including:
    • Where there is no local supply available commercially
    • Practices that have a population who may be more likely to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus
    • Where practices have an unusually high number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms
  • Please read the Department of Health Guidance on use of PPE in non-inpatient health care settings during the COVID-19 outbreak

 

Request masks for allied health service

We are distributing surgical masks from the Commonwealth Government’s fourth tranche to eligible allied health services in the areas of highest risk. 

If your service believes it is in a high risk area and is assessing a large number of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and requires more masks, please fill out this online form.

Please note:

  • Each service should submit one form only and wait for a response.
  • Supplies are limited. We are prioritising allied health professionals working in high-risk clinical areas and with high risk vulnerable patients.
  • When determining whether allocation of masks is appropriate, Primary Health Networks 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.
    • The extent to which the allied health professional can manipulate their environment or practice method to reduce the chance of transmission.
    • The relative vulnerability of the patients that the allied health professionals are treating.
PPE distribution to residential aged care providers from the Commonwealth Department of Health

Residential aged care providers can request PPE by sending an email to the Commonwealth Department of Health: agedcareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au

The Department will assess requests and may be in contact if additional information is required. Providers will be advised if their request has been successful. If so, state and territory governments will distribute the agreed PPE to the provider.

Priority will be given to aged care providers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Visit the Department of Health website for more information.

Update 30 July 2020

There has been no change to the official advice from the Commonwealth Department of Health about how residential aged care providers should request masks or any other PPE from the national stockpile. At this stage Primary Health Networks are not distributing PPE to residential aged care providers. All requests should go direct to the Department using the method outlined above.

Mask distribution to health and community services funded or regulated by DHHS

The following types of DHHS funded organisations can request PPE by emailing Covid19PPErequest@dhhs.vic.gov.au

  • Community health services
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations
  • Alcohol and other drug service providers
  • Mental health care providers
  • Palliative care providers

DHHS has also provided another email address specifically for community services organisations that are funded or regulated by DHHS: CSPPE@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Priority is given to facilities with confirmed or suspected cases so please continue to source PPE commercially where you can.

More information

Mask distribution to 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

Read the Commonwealth Department of Health tranche four guidance document for more information.

Advice for other primary health care organisations

The Commonwealth Department of Health has advised that no other groups are currently being supplied with masks. The Department of Health is working to ensure supply of masks and other PPE. The Department's website will be updated as more stocks of PPE are secured. Please continue to check the website regularly for updates.

Everyone seeking access to masks and other PPE from the National Medical Stockpile should continue attempts to purchase through commercial means.

Guidance from the Department of Health on the supply of masks from the National Medical Stockpile through Primary Health Networks

  Tranche 1 (8 March 2020)

  Tranche 2 (17 March 2020)

  Tranche 3 (2 April 2020)

  Tranche 4 (30 April 2020)

How to use masks and PPE
PPE FAQs

Frequently asked questions about PPE  

When does PPE need to be changed?  

PPE needs to be changed: 

  • When it is contaminatedOr 
  • After four hours 

When is PPE considered to be contaminated? 

  • When a patient examination has been done (for example: chest auscultation)  
  • When a patient coughs or sneezes and they are NOT wearing a mask AND they are within 1.5 metres of the person wearing PPE 

In these situations, full PPE (mask, gown, gloves and goggles) should be changed​.

Does PPE need to be changed if the clinician takes a specimen, but there is no other contact? 

  • If the only contact between the patient and the clinician is to take a specimen then gloves only should be changed.
  • The exception to this is if the patient coughs or sneezes when the swab is taken – in this case all PPE (gloves, gown, mask and goggles) should be changed.

How long can PPE be worn for? 

  • If there is no contamination then PPE needs to be changed every four hours.
  • Masks need to be changed sooner if they become wet.

Source: Commonwealth Department of Health.

Hand sanitiser

Primary health care services can now request a bulk supply of hand sanitiser through the organising committee from the Facebook Practice Managers Network using this form which provides further information.

Please note the following:

  • Supply is now no longer restricted to one unit of 5L or 20L hand sanitiser.
  • If you have already purchased hand sanitiser using the above form, your details are being uploaded to the supplier, WaterTest Systems, and you can use the following process for re-orders:
    1. Set your password
    2. Once you are logged in to the site, click here to order 5L or click here to order 20L
    3. Only authorised accounts will be able to access the above links. To get your colleagues authorised, direct them to use the form.

This is an independent service not operated by or associated with North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.

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