Health Minister says PPE rules 'guided by clinical decision makers'

The requirements around homecare workers' use of personal protective equipment (PPE) "is something that is being worked through closely", the Health Minister says after criticism of the industry's guidelines. 

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He appeared on TVNZ1’s Q+A with Jack Tame on March 29, 2020 to discuss the Covid-19 response. Source: Q+A

Newsroom reported this week many homecare workers were not able to access PPE, despite visiting multiple clients a day. 

On Friday, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield worked to ease concerns from the public and medical staff, saying the country has a national pandemic supply of PPE - such as face masks and gowns - and District Health Boards also have their own dedicated supplies.

"All stones are being turned over to make sure we keep our stock at the level needed to protect our health care workforce and essential workers," he said.

Yesterday, the Covid-19 website was updated to include guidance around wearing PPE.

"It depends on the types of care and the kind of contact people are having and that is something that is being worked through closely with each of those organisations," David Clark told TVNZ1's Q+A.

He said it was his understanding that if they are up close in certain situations, then wearing PPE was appropriate. 

"That is being guided by clinical decision makers, those who understand the science. If people do have concerns they should be talking to Work Safe."

"Those things are being constantly revised."

When asked by host Jack Tame about the risk posed by client numbers that could be as many as eight per day, Mr Clark said he understood healthcare workers "do have gloves when they need them".

"I can only go off the evidence, the clinical evidence the scientific evidence, that's what has served us well, making sure we have the PPE stocks where they're needed, when they're needed."