PPE remains a focus for all healthcare professionals

11 August 2020
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has reiterated their position on the need for sufficient, appropriate, and sustained supply of PPE for all healthcare workers as it remains a vital element of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria and Australia-wide.

RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan, acknowledged that concerns have recently been raised around adequate PPE in healthcare settings, particularly in Victoria.

‘It is the RANZCP position that no healthcare worker should be put at risk due to inadequate PPE or a lack of PPE in their health service for their own safety and that of their patients and the broader community’, reaffirmed Associate Professor Allan.

‘Psychiatrists and trainees working in public services, such as inpatient units or community mental health settings, as well as in private practice, should be able to access PPE via their employing health service.

‘We encourage all members to follow the advice and recommendations of your health service, the Australian Chief Medical Officer and the relevant Health Departments in your State or Territory.

The RANZCP Victorian Branch Chair, Dr Kerryn Rubin, has outlined the Branch’s strong support for the use of PPE to or above the Victorian DHHS standards.

‘The decision to use PPE is made in the context of the risk of the patient having COVID-19’, explained Dr Rubin.

‘For Victorian healthcare workers, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has advice available on their website on the use of PPE, including P2/N95  face masks, eye protection and surgical masks.

‘Access to appropriate PPE is not just a public health issue, it is a mental health issue.

‘Healthcare workers report higher levels of anxiety about being infected, and infecting their patients and their families, when they do not have access to appropriate PPE and guidelines for its use. They need to be looked after, so they can keep looking after others.

‘It is our understanding that the DHHS advice will be reviewed on 14 August by the Victorian PPE Taskforce, to ensure that the guidance reflects the evolving evidence around the efficacy and utility of certain elements of PPE in different contexts.

‘Despite this, the RANZCP understands that concerns remain around access to PPE in Victoria and will continue to advocate for appropriate and equitable access to PPE for psychiatrists across all settings.’

Further information on the use of PPE is available in the RANZCP Information Sheet on PPE for members in Australia.

Where psychiatrists and trainees are having difficulty accessing PPE, they should raise this with their employer or health service in the first instance. Private medical specialists have been directed by the State government to contact their local Primary Health Network for PPE.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org.

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.