Concerns grow over global PPE supply chains

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Doctors have raised concerns over access to personal protective equipment as the Australian Government searches for alternate suppliers amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak...

Associate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC), told newsGP he can understand the need to properly organise distribution of a limited resource and said he hopes it would be made available ‘on a needs basis, not on the ability-to-pay basis’.
However, he warned that improvised PPE could have serious consequences, as coronavirus spreading among healthcare workers, especially early in an outbreak, has the potential to be devastating.
‘There would be a real problem of knowing what PPE is effective, particularly if you’re home-making PPE, [and] whether [or not] it’s actually creating a false sense of security,’ he said.
‘If you start losing healthcare workforce early on in a pandemic spread … you lose the capacity to provide primary care and patients flood into already overstretched hospital sites.
‘Secondly, healthcare workers tend to come in contact early on in the course of a disease spreading to the community, because people come and see us, and then we’re likely to become a source of spread of infection to patients because we see a lot of people.’
Associate Professor Morgan said there is a major need to support GPs properly, as they are ‘central’ to any public health response to a pandemic.
‘People are going to be scared and many will be sick if this takes root, and GPs are the large, willing workforce with the skills to manage that. Supporting GPs to do that safely is vital,’ he said.
‘We should be thinking seriously about the availability of masks to the general public and whether it’s sensible, if supplies are going to be really constrained, to have things for sale in supermarkets and hardware stores that might become really sought after and essential products for protecting key workers to keep society running.
‘[If we ran out] the advice would have to be, “We can’t safely see people that fulfil those criteria and they need to go to a better resourced site”, which I think is a ludicrous waste of a willing and well-trained resource in general practice.’


Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers

Period28 Feb 2020

Media contributions


Media contributions