Personal protective equipment (PPE) was not given to Victorian aged care facilities over fears it was being stolen by staff, an email released by the hotel quarantine inquiry says. Source: The Australian.
It comes as reports emerge that Victoria’s supplies of N95 masks for health workers have fallen to alarmingly low levels during the coronavirus pandemic.
The email, written by deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen, states the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) “cannot preposition (PPE) in facilities as people are stealing it”.
The Herald Sun reports the email was written on the same day the hotel quarantine program was announced and was among thousands of pages made public by the inquiry over the weekend.
The paper reports Dr van Diemen was reflecting on problems of establishing infection control in aged care facilities in March.
She wrote “we need a supply, here ready to go” and noted the Morrison Government had said it would reimburse states for PPE provided to aged care in outbreaks but fears over the equipment being taken meant the DHHS could not preposition it in facilities.
But Health Workers Union secretary Diana Asmar told the newspaper she was “not aware of a single Victorian aged care worker or HWU member facing a disciplinary meeting due to theft of PPE”.
Victorian health workers are reportedly still not always able to access all the adequate PPE they need, including high-level N95 masks, as fears supply and not safety is dictating access to PPE.
In March, Catholic Health Australia highlighted the lack of access by the private and not-for-profit hospital sectors to national stockpiles of PPE.