Mask distribution

Surgical and P2 / N95 masks

Access to surgical mask and P2 / N95 is being is being facilitated by PHNs as outlined in the Department of Health Advice document Distribution of PPE through PHNs: Tranche 4, Surgical masks and P2/N95 respirators for general practice, community pharmacy, and allied health.

To ensure equitable access, consideration is being given to service location, practice size, number of GPs, practices offering testing, the number of surgical masks in stock and the number of masks previously distributed. Additional allocation will be on a case-by-case basis for those who have a significant demonstrated need until stocks are depleted.

COORDINARE does not have access to additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). No further advice from the Department of Health has been received by COORDINARE on the provision of additional PPE to general practice, ACCHS, community pharmacy, or allied health.

Surgical masks

Surgical masks supplied by PHNs are intended to be provided to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and, when no local commercial supply is available, allied health and community pharmacies:

  • for the protection of health professionals and practice / pharmacy staff in direct contact with people presenting with fever and / or respiratory symptoms including cough, sore throat and / or shortness of breath
  • for provision to people who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, for the protection of other patients and staff, and for the protection of the public while the patient returns home.

There is no need for the general public or health workers to wear masks unless they are dealing with symptomatic patients.

As supplies are limited, PHNs have been given the role of distributing surgical masks to practices, ACCHS, allied health, and community pharmacies with demonstrated need.

Eligibility for general practice (including ACCHS):

  • where there is no local supply available commercially
  • where practices have a population which may be more likely to have been exposed to COVID-19
  • where practices have an unusual number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.

Please note: PHNs are now able to distribute stocks to after-hours GP home visiting services, Medical Deputising Services (MDS), and nurse practitioner owned or led primary care practices in their area.

Eligibility for community pharmacies:

  • for the use of their staff when there is no available commercial supply AND;
  • they have significant contact with people presenting with fever or respiratory symptoms.

Masks distributed through PHNs cannot be sold as commercial stock. Anecdotal reports have suggested that NMS stock is being sold. If a PHN is aware that anyone is selling NMS stocks, provision of masks to this pharmacy will be ceased and cost recovery sought.

Eligibility for allied health:

allied health professionals are now eligible for limited access to the supply for the use of their staff when there is no available commercial supply and they are working in higher-risk clinical areas, and with higher risk vulnerable patients. Given the diverse nature of the allied health sector, when determining whether allocation of masks is appropriate, the PHN will consider:

  • the likelihood of the worker having direct or close contact with high-risk patients who are presenting with fever and/or respiratory symptoms
  • the extent to which the allied health professional can manipulate their environment or practice method to reduce the chance of transmission AND;
  • the relative vulnerability of the patients that the allied health professionals are treating.

There remains an assumption that allied health professions will, where possible, not see patients with respiratory symptoms or at a higher risk of COVID-19 unless required to as part of their core business (for example: an optometrist can defer seeing a patient with respiratory symptoms until that person is well).

If you meet the eligibility requirements above, please complete this ONLINE FORM to request a box of surgical masks.
P2 / N95 masks

P2 / N95 respirators are only required for aerosol generating procedures. See the relevant fact sheet.

PHNs are asked to conserve stocks of P2 / N95 respirators as far as possible.

Distribution of P2 / N95 respirators is limited to general practices (including ACCHS), who need to assess suspected COVID-19 cases because of the unavailability of nearby dedicated respiratory clinics or Emergency Departments (e.g. in some rural and remote communities).

Download this chart for advice on fitting P2 / N95 masks, and for the correct use of personal protective equipment, please see this resource.

If you're a general practice and meet this criteria, please complete this ONLINE FORM and state that you require P2 / N95 masks specifically.