A stocktake in the Health Ministry's handling of personal protective equipment has found initial teething issues have now been resolved, Health Minister David Clark said today.
The stocktake was ordered following repeated stories about frontline health and community workers and their frustrations about access to PPE and the implementation around guidelines for its use.
In a statement released today, Clark said that director general of health Ashley Bloomfield had confidence all 20 DHBs had "appropriate processes in place to distribute PPE to all their community-based providers".
Clark said Bloomfield's report identified four areas where PPE distribution needed improvement.
• Clarifying interpretations of clinical guidance on PPE use
• Streamlining decision-making
• Ensuring timely turnaround of orders
• Ensuring there are appropriate processes for recording and resolving complaints
"His report did identify that there were some initial 'teething' issues where provider expectations were not met, but these have now been resolved," Clark said.
"To provide further assurance that we remain on track, I have asked Sir Brian Roche to cast an independent eye over the information gathered for the stocktake.
"Sir Brian will also be able to ask further questions of the Ministry, DHBs, providers and others as he feels appropriate. He will advise me directly if he finds anything he feels needs further follow-up."
Bloomfield's report said that some community providers' expectations around PPE access were not initially met.
"However, these issues have been resolved as the system has bedded in and DHBs were able to cite examples of positive feedback from providers about the service being provided," the report said.
"While there are differences in the exact way that DHB systems work, they are clearly all functional and meeting expectations."
The Auditor-General is also doing an independent review of the ministry's PPE handling.
Bloomfield's report said the stocktake was about DHB distribution to external providers, and work was continuing to look at DHBs' internal PPE distribution.
Some complaints were made to the Canterbury DHB about the guidelines for PPE use, where workers were told PPE wasn't necessary.
Wellington-based DHBs had some "feedback" about provided PPE being less than what was asked for, while Bay of Plenty DHB had some "queries" about PPE delivery.
Southern DHB had complaints after PPE requests were denied or the volume delivered was less than requested.
In Whanganui, there were initially a lot of questions about who to contact to get PPE, but the process had now improved.
"There were also a lot of concerns about partial orders being made instead of full orders, due to limited stock levels and uncertainty when the next shipment of PPE would arrive. One minor complaint was received when the courier service had not delivered in time for the business shutting up for the day. The provider was offered another supply (as it was only small)."
All DHBs except for the West Coast cited positive feedback for PPE services.
"At today's home and community providers meeting, they reiterated what a great job you had done and that you needed a large bottle of wine," was one line of feedback to Whanganui DHB.
Feedback to Midcentral DHB included: "Received the masks and hand sanitiser, thanks very much. The hand sanitiser in particular has made a big difference in our confidence to be able to continue to provide our emergency service."
Hillcrest Rest Home told Hawke's Bay DHB: "Thank you very much for your support, it means a lot to our team."
The Ministry of Health has taken over and centralised the supply of PPE to all 20 DHBs, which in turn are distributing it to community providers in their district.