HOSPITAL CHIEFS PLEAD WITH RETAILERS TO STOP SELLING HOSPITAL GRADE FACE MASKS AS STOCKS REACH CRISIS POINT

Catholic Hospitals are calling on retailers and wholesalers to stop selling hospital-grade masks to the public as finite stocks of N95 masks come under intense pressure.

Catholic Hospitals are calling on retailers and wholesalers to stop selling hospital-grade masks to the public as finite stocks of N95 masks come under intense pressure.

The peak body for the not-for-profit hospital network, Catholic Health Australia, says that while it supports the public wearing masks national stocks of N95 masks need to be preserved.

“These masks are on sale in Chemist Warehouse and Office Warehouse but hospitals across the country are scrambling to access these life-saving masks,” said James Kemp, Director of Health Policy at Catholic Health Australia (CHA).

“There is real pressure on the supply of these masks. Some hospitals in Victoria are reaching out to health providers in less affected states to ask if they can access their stocks of N95 masks. We are calling on retailers and wholesalers to think twice about sourcing these masks to sell to the public.

“As we have seen, this pandemic can surge very quickly - we need to make every mask count,” he said.

A P2/N95 mask removes around 95% of all particles that are at least 0.3 microns in diameter – and are essential in the fight against COVID which has claimed the lives of thousands of hospital staff around the world.

Almost one in eight hospital beds are located in Catholic hospitals but they are being denied access to the national stockpiles of hospital grade masks - called N95s.

Mr Kemp said there are many other masks that can protect the public.

“COVID-19 cases are rising all over the country and we have to make sure our frontline staff are protected. We warned that stocks of PPE equipment were critically low at the start of the pandemic and that we needed to be able to access the nation’s stockpile.

“Now, when our hospital staff need it the most – when they are dealing with a surge of COVID-19 infected patients - they are worried how they will get through the next couple of months, let alone the next year.”

“The guidelines for wearing a mask in public is that it does not need to be a medical grade mask, and certainly not an N95. While we all want to protect ourselves and our loved ones, the best way we can do this is to mask-up in public but leave the N95 masks to our clinicians who need them”

Note to editors: Catholic Health Australia (CHA) is Australia’s largest non-government grouping of health and aged care services accounting for approximately 10 percent of hospital-based healthcare in Australia. Our members also provide around 25 percent of private hospital care, 5 percent of public hospital care, 12 percent of aged care facilities, and 20 percent of home care and support for the elderly.

Media contact: Julian Lee 0422 343 086

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