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The issues surrounding frontline workers' access to personal protective equipment including masks will be independently reviewed.
The Auditor-General made the announcement this morning, saying that the Health Ministry had agreed to a review of its management of PPE for the Covid-19 response.
Healthcare workers in hospitals and in the community, including at aged care facilities, have been outspoken about problems accessing PPE, even though the Government has been adamant that there is more than enough supply of masks, goggles, gowns and face shields.
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Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield is welcoming the review and any recommendations it may have.
But he is defending the ministry's management of PPE, adding that PPE has been distributed in ways that have never been done before.
While there have been distribution issues, and the ministry was now nationalising the process, starting with masks.
A statement from the Auditor-General said the review will be done in four weeks and then be made public.
"Our review will include how the ministry manages the stock of PPE, ensures an adequate supply, and distributes the PPE. We will assess the controls over procurement, distribution to district health boards and others, and controls over the stock levels.
"We will report on how the ministry is responding to challenges and recommend improvements where appropriate."
The statement said that the review look at the guidelines for PPE use, which frontline workers have criticised because they have been used to prevent access to PPE.
"We are not clinical specialists so our review will not cover the appropriateness of the ministry's clinical guidance on PPE use," the statement said.
"The ministry has needed to move quickly to address the current needs. In particular, it has needed to set up new approaches to national reserves and stock levels, ordering, freight management, distribution, and advice on the appropriate use of PPE."
Bloomfield said DHB managers made decisions about appropriate access to PPE based on the ministry's guidance and the advice of infectious disease specialists.
He did not want to second-guess those clinical decisions, he said.
Asked about frontline workers' anxiety about accessing PPE, he said he can reassure workers that he contacted the head of the relevant DHB whenever he heard of any issues.
"If any issues arise, they are looked into. That doesn't mean that on any one day a DHB can distribute all the PPE a provider thinks it needs on that day."
He said Auckland hospitals were not "recycling" N95 masks, but that they were being cleaned because there was evidence overseas that they could be reused if necessary.
He looked forward to the review's recommendations.
"I'm very open to scrutiny and review of what we have done, and any feedback on how that could be done better."