23 Sep 2020

GPs say DHBs not providing PPE in lower alert levels

10:40 am on 23 September 2020

Some family doctors are upset about what they say is an inadequate supply of vital personal protective equipment (PPE).

Man doctor or scientist waring protective suit, and face mask

Photo: 123rf

A recent survey by Auckland University researchers found that 37 percent of general practices were experiencing challenges in getting PPE.

There were concerns that some district health boards were halting supplies of PPE to GPs as Covid-19 alert levels reduced.

Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith led the research.

"When alert levels go down some DHBs are saying that they are not going to provide it [PPE] anymore. I don't think ... there's not a problem with the supply, there's a problem with the funding of it."

She told Morning Report some practices were still struggling financially.

"The lockdown period was extremely difficult on practices and to actually then have to pay for PPE as well is considered beyond the pale for many of them."

Goodyear-Smith said DHBs provide hospitals and GPs with PPE in higher alert levels, but she understood that under level 1 that was not the case.

"The DHBs are saying they are no longer going to fund this and that practices will have to fund it themselves."

The survey could not identify which DHBs were refusing PPE supply but she said Auckland DHB - in level 2.5 - was still providing practices with equipment.

Director-General of Health Dr Bloomfield said his team would work with the College of GPs and other GP organisations to try to find out where it was happening.

"If there are issues we'll address them."

PPE was not being rationed and there was plenty of supply and stock coming in, he told Morning Report.

GPs were provided PPE for the purpose of taking Covid-19 swabs but needed to purchase the gear themselves for routine work, he said.

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