Experts have panned the Government response to personal protective equipment (PPE) through COVID, stating that “health care worker safety has fallen short of best practice” through the pandemic.
In a paper penned for the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), doctors Michelle Ananda-Rajah, Benjamin Veness, Andrew Miller and David Heslop criticised government advice around the use of P2 and N95 masks when working with potentially COVID-19-positive patients.
“Guidelines that advocate use of surgical masks instead of N95 or P2 respirators did not align with the growing evidence around airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2″, the authors said.
“Occupational health and safety principles have taken a back seat”.
The authors have acknowledged that health workers have won important protections for themselves through the pandemic, even when faced with heavy government and employer opposition.
“Gains in respiratory protection have been hard won by Australian health care workers who have experienced bullying and censure [from management,” they said. “[This is] despite demands from their professional societies for respirators that should be fit-tested to Australian/New Zealand Standard 1715:2009.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has successfully won fit-testing in 12 of New South Wales’ Local Health Districts.
Dr Ananda-Rajah recently spoke in an NSWNMA webinar about proper fit-testing for nurses and midwives. Members can access this webinar for free in Member Central. Non-members can join the Association here.