Mask distribution

Surgical and P2 / N95 masks

Access to surgical and P2 / N95 masks 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.

Full details on the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the health workforce during COVID-19 by the Department of Health can be accessed here.

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.

Please be advised the Department of Health has not provided COORDINARE with access to additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gowns and gloves.

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.

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 are in a location where there may be community transmission of COVID-19
  • where practices have an unusual number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.

Eligibility for community pharmacies:

  • for the use of their staff when there is no available commercial supply AND;
  • their staff are required to be in direct contact with patients / clients at less than 1.5 metres, and there may be community transmission of COVID-19 in their area
  • they have significant contact with people presenting with fever or respiratory symptoms (irrespective of level of community transmission of COVID-19).

Masks distributed through PHNs cannot be sold as commercial stock.

Eligibility for allied health:

Allied health professionals are now eligible for limited access to the supply for their staff when there is no available commercial supply and they are working in higher-risk clinical areas, and with higher risk vulnerable patients or in areas where there may be community transmission of COVID-19. Given the diverse nature of the allied health sector, when determining whether allocation of masks is appropriate, PHNs have been asked to consider:

  • local transmission patterns of COVID-19 and local public health recommendations for mask wearing in clinical settings
  • the extent to which the allied health professional can manipulate their environment of practice method to minimise the chance of transmission.

In areas where there is no evidence or suspicion of community transmission, PHNs should 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 relative vulnerability of the patients that the allied health professionals are treating.
If you meet the eligibility requirements above, please complete this ONLINE FORM to request a box of surgical masks.
P2 / N95 masks

The Department of Health has advised that P2 / N95 respirators are only required for aerosol generating procedures. See the relevant guidance here. PHNs are asked to conserve stocks of P2 / N95 respirators as far as possible.

Eligibility for general practice (including ACCHS):

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. For the correct use of personal protective equipment, please see this resource, and for advice on optimising the use of PPE in general practice click here.

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